“The presence of a pharmacy does not necessarily mean it is able to provide services as required by the local population.” That is one of the sentiments discussed by pharmacy experts in Parliament.
In an evaluation of the Government’s commitments in the area of pharmacy in England, health and social care MPs heard participants discuss pharmacy access in rural areas. One said:
“… What does access mean? You know, what bus routes [are] like … In rural places it can be a 10-minute journey in the middle of October and a two-hour journey in the middle of August.”
The report notes that the areas with the worst access to general practice, relative to their access to community pharmacy, were the better-off (less deprived) areas, particularly in rural parts of the country.
MPs were also told that there is mixed evidence for the effectiveness of rural pharmacy access funding (Pharmacy Access Scheme). For example, NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and NHS Milton Keynes ICB told MPs how the eligibility criteria for the revised PhAS did not always result in the pharmacies that need funding getting it, and can also result in pharmacies prioritising dispensing over providing other services.
The report also noted calls for a holistic review of pharmacy access.