Pharmacy minister Steve Brine has told the House of Commons that online-only pharmacies have a role to play in offering pharmacy services to the public following the recent announcement of almost 200 pharmacy closures by high street pharmacy Lloyds.
Responding to a question from Labour MP for West Lancashire, Rosie Cooper, during questions to health ministers on 14 November 2017, Brine said the government “continued to monitor the market carefully in the community pharmacy sector”, but he insisted that access to pharmacies remained “very good”.
LloydsPharmacy announced the closure of 190 “commercially unviable” pharmacies in October 2017, and Cooper told the Commons that Cormac Tobin, managing director of Lloyds parent company Celesio, was very clear that government cuts to the community pharmacy budget were responsible.
“Does the minister have any idea of how many community pharmacies are at risk of closure as a result of government cuts and what assessment has he made of the likely impact of these closures directly on patients and the wider NHS?” she asked.
Brine told MPs in response: “In England, 88% of people fall within a 20-minute walk of a community pharmacy. In areas where there are fewer pharmacies, our access scheme continues to provide additional protection, and a growing number of internet pharmacies also support access offering patients greater choice.
“Pharmacies are a critical part of the primary care infrastructure in our country.”