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Increase in pharmacy closure since January-April 2023: PM quizzed in the parliament

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‘I care deeply about the future of community pharmacies’, says the Prime Minister

“There are over 10 and a half Community pharmacies across the country working incredibly hard to serve their patients,” prime minister Rishi Sunak said praising the community pharmacists and highlighted the concerning trend of pharmacy closures.

Responding to a question raised by St Ives MP Derek Thomas during Wednesday’s (15th May ) Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons, the prime minister  reiterated his commitment to supporting community pharmacies amidst growing concerns over pharmacy closures.

During the recent session, a Conservative MP brought attention to the concerning trend of pharmacy closures, citing data from the National Pharmacy Association (NPA).

Over 177 pharmacies in the months January to April this year, compared to 116 in the same period last year.

The MP asked Sunak: “Will my right honourable friend do everything he can to ensure funds are directed towards Community Pharmacy so that our Pharmacy friends can help government to deliver NHS Services where and when they are most needed ?”

In response, Sunak remarked that he “cares deeply about the future of community pharmacies.”

He also acknowledged the indispensable role played by community pharmacists in alleviating pressure on urgent care services. He added:

“I’m pleased that around 80 per cent of people live within a 20-minute walk of a pharmacy and that’s why we’re backing them with Pharmacy First with £645 million of extra funding whereby people can now go and see their pharmacist rather than their GP to get treatments for the seven most common ailments like ear infections” quickly and closer to home.

The Prime Minister also stressed the significance of Pharmacy First in reducing waiting lists and improving access to healthcare services.

Sunak’s remarks come amidst growing concerns over the sustainability of community pharmacies, with closures posing a threat to access to essential healthcare services for many communities across the country.

In response, Paul Rees, CEO of the NPA, emphasised the urgent need to support local pharmacies to prevent further closures and enable them to continue serving communities effectively.

He said: Rishi Sunak was right to express confidence in the amazing work of pharmacies at Prime Ministers’ Questions today and right to say that they can play a big role cutting waiting lists and providing excellent care for millions of people.

“But he completely glosses over the financial crisis engulfing pharmacies which are closing at the rate of 10 a week. We need to support these amazing local services so we can stop the closures and allow them to continue supporting communities everywhere.”

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