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Pharmacy closures: England loses 432 community pharmacies over the past year – CCA report

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The most deprived areas continue to carry the weight of pharmacy closures

A new report from the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) has indicated that England has experienced a net loss of 1,180 pharmacies since 2015, attributed to a 30 per cent reduction in core funding for community pharmacy in real terms.

The country saw a record loss of 432 pharmacies in FY 2023/23, an average of more than 8 pharmacies closing per week.

The CCA has warned that this “concerning trend” could have a disastrous impact on patients, especially since the most deprived areas continue to carry the weight of pharmacy closures.

As per the CCA’s analysis, out of the permanent closures that occurred between 1st April 2015 and 24 February 2024, 34.9 per cent took place in the top 20 per cent most deprived communities.

Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the CCA, said: “Pharmacies continue to close at an unprecedented rate. The real-terms cut to core funding of over 30 per cent since 2015 is simply untenable.”

“Our analysis has also highlighted that unfortunately, these closures are disproportionately affecting the communities who need primary care access the most.

“Pharmacies cannot be expected to operate at a loss, and effectively subsidise the NHS, any longer. Without significant additional funding, fewer pharmacies will result in patients finding it even harder to access the medicines and clinical NHS care that they need,” he added.,

The decreasing pharmacy network not only poses a risk to patient access to medicines but also hampers the delivery of the flagship Pharmacy First Service, the association said.

The closures in deprived areas exacerbate the concept of ‘distance decay’ for accessible and preventive healthcare, as increased travel distance to the remaining pharmacies reduces the likelihood of patients using such services.

The CCA used the pharmacy data from NHS Digital’s Organisation Data Service to analyse the permanent pharmacy closures in England since 2015.

Net closures between 2015/16 and 2023/24 as per the CCA analysis:

 

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