Pharmacy funding cuts continue to bite into the network of community pharmacies in England, reducing the size of the network back to pre-2013 levels.
According to NHS data for the pharmacy network for 2018-19, hardest hit during the year were 100-hour pharmacies, which accounted for around four in five of all closures – 67 businesses of this type closed.
Also vulnerable to the marketing conditions are the multiple operators, which lost 1.3 percentage points of market share to independents, equating to 219 branches closed and/or sold. Independent pharmacies now account for 39 per cent of all pharmacies.
For the second consecutive year, pharmacies also saw a marginal decline in the number of dispensed items, down to 1.006 billion items. Losses of prescription volume share were felt most by small pharmacies (0-2,000 items a month), which lost 9 per cent of their share of prescription business during the year.
More successful, however, were pharmacies dispensing between 6,001-8,000 items a month, which grew their share of business 2.2 per cent, and pharmacies dispensing over 10,000 items a month (+1.2 per cent).
Overall, at the end of 2018-19, there were 11, 539 pharmacies which, for the second year running, represents a net loss of 80 compared to the previous year, according to the new NHS statistical report of general pharmaceutical services in England.
During the year, there were 17 routine applications in controlled areas (eight in reserved locations), based on the premise of delivering “future improvements or better access”.