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Rural pharmacies’ financial aid will continue until at least the end of 2023

Almost half of rural pharmacies quality for the support

June 8th 2023

Tagged: political news Pharmacy owners' news Rurality

By Ailsa Colquhoun

Government ministers have pledged to maintain the financial aid scheme that supports rural pharmacies until at least the end of this year.

A new report Delivering for rural England highlights that almost half (46 per cent) of the 1,230 rural pharmacies in England qualify for support from a £20 million Pharmacy Access Scheme. This financially supports pharmacies to stay open.

The report outlines the health challenges facing rural areas, namely, that

  • the rural population is older than the urban population and its average age is increasing faster with implications for health and social care needs
  • the average minimum travel time to a hospital is approximately one hour in rural areas, compared with approximately half an hour in urban areas
  • delivering community-based care can be more expensive in more sparsely populated rural areas
  • recruitment of healthcare professionals is more difficult.

The report also highlights that the targeted Enhanced Recruitment Scheme funds a £20,000 salary supplement to attract trainee GPs to work in hard-to-fill areas, such as rural communities.

In total, 9.6 million people (17 per cent of England’s population) live in rural areas. The rural economy is worth £260 billion to the economy (15 per cent of England’s output).

Further statistics show that 19 per cent of rural households do not have a GP within 30 minutes by public transport or walk and that 76 per cent of rural households do not have a hospital within 45 minutes by public transport or walking.