More than one in four people who would normally seek advice from their community pharmacy would go to their GP instead if the pharmacy was closed, according to the results of a survey released by Pharmacy Voice.
An online poll of 2,054 adults conducted by market researchers YouGov revealed that 29% would make an appointment to see their GP if their pharmacy was closed.
The results are highlighted in a report published by Pharmacy Voice on 23 May 2016 as part of its Dispensing Health Equality campaign, designed to champion the role that pharmacies play in fighting health inequality.
The report also highlights research conducted by NHS Fylde and Wyre clinical commissioning group (CCG) in Fleetwood, Lancashire – one of the most deprived districts in England. The CCG found that the impact on GP appointments would be even greater if the community pharmacy closed. It discovered that 84% of people questioned would go to their GP if they were not able to access a community pharmacy minor ailment scheme.
Fleetwood GP Mark Spencer, who is also co-chair of NHS Alliance, an organisation that represents those working in primary care, says: “At a time when there is an entirely unacceptable widening gap in life expectancy between rich and poor, extreme pressure on GPs, and increasing public awareness of the role pharmacy is playing in delivering services to support public health, it would be catastrophic if the areas that most need it, are deprived of access to this crucial community asset.”
The statistics come as the profession warns that at least 3,000 pharmacies in England could close if the government goes ahead with its proposals to slash £170m from the community pharmacy budget in 2016.