The impact of the funding cuts to community pharmacy in England has been highlighted by figures showing a fall in the number of high street pharmacies.
Data from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) showed that the number of ‘bricks and mortar’ pharmacies dropped by 134 between November 2016 and April 2018.
But while 156 bricks and mortar pharmacies closed and 22 opened, the number of distance-selling pharmacies increased by 63, the figures highlighted.
Overall, the numbers showed a total net closure figure of 71 community pharmacies on the pharmaceutical list over the period. The DHSC said that, in some cases, relocations and consolidations may have been identified as closures.
Simon Dukes, chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), which promotes and supports the interests of all NHS community pharmacies in England, said: “As the [DHSC’s] figures have confirmed, the impact of the cuts is hitting community pharmacies hard.
“Rather than investing in developments that could improve patient care and allow them to offer more services, contractors are having to consider reducing staff, opening hours and unpaid services, such as home delivery.
Dukes added that some pharmacy owners had found themselves faced with no alternative but to close their pharmacies or merge with another pharmacy.
“The PSNC is very concerned about the impact that this reduction in pharmacy services or closures could have on patients, particularly for the vulnerable and those in areas of high deprivation where pharmacies have traditionally been able to help reduce health inequalities.”