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GP practices to come under pressure from pharmacy closures

Community phamacy closures could put ’untenable’ pressure on GP practices, new research has suggested.

The YouGov research, commissioned for Dispensing Health Equality, showed that more than one in four people (29%) who would normally seek advice first from their local pharmacy on common ailments would instead make an appointment with their GP practice if the local pharmacy closed.

The research further showed that the pressures would be worst in deprived areas, where four out of five people said they would approach a GP instead.

The report, published by Pharmacy Voice, said: ‘An uplift in GP appointments is untenable in any part of the country, but especially so in those areas that find it difficult to attract GPs in the first place.’

NHS Alliance co-chair Dr Mark Spencer, a GP in Fleetwood in Lancashire, said: ‘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.’

GP leaders have warned that the closure of up to 3,000 pharmacies in the UK will be a ‘disaster’ that could lead to greater patient demand on GPs for minor illnesses and severe problems with repeat prescriptions.

The Government has consulted on plans to slash funding for community pharmacy in 2016/17 by £170m – a cut of more than 6%.