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Loss of pharmacies ‘generates millions of extra GP appointments’

Loss of pharmacies ‘generates millions of extra GP appointments’

The closure of over 400 community pharmacies in England since 2019 may have generated 2.5 million extra GP appointments, a report has claimed.

The analysis was carried out by the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp), which combined NHS data on pharmacy closures with data from an audit of 4,139 community pharmacies.

However, the Department of Health and Social Care distanced itself from the findings, saying that it ‘does not recognise these figures’.

According to (AIMp), which represents independent community pharmacies with at least two branches, its analysis ‘revealed that community pharmacy closures since 2019 may already have led to a cumulative 2.5 million additional appointments for hard-pressed GP practices’.

The association said the findings come amid a threat of a ‘tsunami’ of further pharmacy closures across the country, ‘as the sector buckles under existing pressures, made worse by the flawed introduction of the Government’s much-vaunted Pharmacy First initiative’.

In response, it called for the Government to remedy the ‘chronic underfunding’ of community pharmacy alongside other issues including ‘medicine supply challenges and a dysfunctional reimbursement system’.

AIMp CEO Dr Leyla Hannbeck said: ‘We want to be part of the solution to many of the issues facing the NHS. But chronic underfunding, medicine supply challenges and a dysfunctional reimbursement system have created the perfect storm of pharmacy closures.

‘If we continue down this path, we risk creating a tsunami of further pharmacy closures across the country.

‘Our new analysis clearly shows that the loss of community pharmacies results in even Pharmacy closures putting pressure on hard-pressed GP surgeries.’

AiMP’s analysis found that the North West of England has fared worst with 104 community pharmacy closures between 2019 and 2023, which it suggested generated an extra 503,001 GP appointments.

At ICB level, the analysis found the highest number of pharmacy closures in the Black Country (54), which it claimed generated 150,000 additional GP appointments.

DAUK GP spokesperson Dr Steve Taylor told Pulse: ‘It’s difficult to maintain small businesses that have had real terms funding removed and more work added. This is true of local pharmacies and GP practices.  

‘Care in the community is vital for everyone, preventing and treating illness. The loss of pharmacies will put pressure on local GPs. Equally the loss of GPs puts pressure on the whole NHS.’

Tower Hamlets GP Dr Selvaseelan Selvarajah said underfunding pharmacies ‘leads to pressures elsewhere in the system including general practice’.

He told Pulse: ‘Community pharmacies, just like general practice, have had their budgets reduced over the years leading to closures of many local pharmacies.

‘Underfunding of vital part of primary care invariably leads to pressures elsewhere in the system including general practice. Closures will also make it challenging for pharmacy first services to be delivered effectively.’

A DHSC spokesperson said: ‘We do not recognise these figures. We have made up to £645m of new funding available to support the expansion of community pharmacy services, which comes on top of the £2bn pharmacies already receive per year.

‘Pharmacy First will free up an anticipated 10 million GP appointments a year. It has been widely welcomed by the pharmacy sector and so far, 98% of pharmacies have signed up to deliver it.

‘Four in five people live within a 20-minute walk of a pharmacy and there are twice as many pharmacies in deprived areas, making access to care quicker and more convenient.’

Under the Pharmacy First scheme, patients can be consulted in community pharmacies for seven common conditions – including sore throats, uncomplicated UTIs and ear infections.

According to new modelling by pharmacy leaders, Pharmacy First could free up more than 30 million GP appointments a year within two years, if ‘fully-funded’.

Regional breakdown of data:



No. of Community Pharmacies lost between  2019-23

Cumulative no. of potential extra GP appointments as a result of community pharmacy closures between 2019-2023




South West



South East






East of England



North West



North East and Yorkshire



*Data number of community pharmacies in each region in 2019/20 has been estimated using calculations based on the data from 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23, and the NHS data on the overall number of pharmacies for 2019/20.

Source: Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies



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Not on your Nelly 20 March, 2024 10:02 pm


So the bird flew away 20 March, 2024 10:56 pm

Classic Catch 22…someone’s having a larf.