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One successful controlled area pharmacy application during the past year

Pharmacy network falls to its lowest number since 2016

October 14th 2022

Tagged: NHS statistical reports Pharmacy owners' news England

By Ailsa Colquhoun

There was one successful application to open a pharmacy in a controlled locality in 2021/22, latest figures on the English pharmacy network show.

Three pharmacy applications in controlled areas during the year were refused, bringing the total number of refused applications of this type over the past five years to 45. Over the same period only eight such applications have been successful.

The latest dataset General Pharmaceutical Services in England 2015/16 – 2021/22 also shows a net addition of three distance selling pharmacies, although it is not known if these were in controlled areas.

In total, 308 new pharmacies opened and 418 closed in England during the year, taking the number of active community pharmacies to 11,500 – the lowest total since 2015/16. The figures for 2021/22 represent the fourth consecutive year of decline in the size of the pharmacy network.

Multiple pharmacies continue to cede market share, now accounting for 58.8 per cent of the total network, down from 60.1 per cent in 2019/20.

The number of pharmacies now dispensing 10,000+ items per month has risen from 2,315 in 2018/19 (representing 19.5 per cent of the total network) to 2,449 in 2021/22 (21.25 per cent). The average monthly dispensing volume for this group has risen from 13,496 items to 14,303 items over this four-year period.

The average monthly dispensing volume for an English pharmacy has risen 6 per cent from 7,116 to 7,550 items over the same time period.

Over the past four years, the number of pharmacies dispensing 6,001-8,000 items per month has risen from 2,556 in 2018/19 (av 6,907 items pm) to 2,661 (av 6,870 items) in 2021/22 and this dispensing volume band has marginally increased their share of overall script volume to 21 per cent of the total.

Between 2018/22, the biggest losers in the pharmacy network are those dispensing 2001-4000 items a month, which are down in number by 397 branches.

In terms of dispensing volumes, in 2021/22 community pharmacies and appliance contractors dispensed:

  • 1.05 billion prescription items, a 2.65 per cent increase from 2020/21
  • EPS items accounting for 95.3 per cent of all items dispensed

The cost of drugs and appliances reimbursed totalled £9.05 billion, a 0.83 per cent increase from 2020/21

Some 4.85 million seasonal influenza vaccines were administered, a 75.1 per cent increase from 2.77 million in 2020/21