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Liverpool council reports 'concerning' 9% drop in pharmacies since 2022

The Liverpool Health and Wellbeing Board will publish a “supplementary document” to monitor pharmacy provision after the city saw an almost 10% drop in the number of pharmacies since 2022, it has revealed.

Liverpool council has insisted that pharmacy provision remains “sufficient” for its population, despite a “recent concerning trend” of closures since 2022, a March 7 report published by the city’s Health and Wellbeing Board (HWB) has found.

Since the publication of the city’s most recent pharmaceutical needs assessment (PNA) in October 2022, the number of community pharmacies in the city has shrunk by 9%, from 116 to 105, according to the report.

In areas affected by closures, “signs of potential gaps” in pharmacy provision were “developing”, it said.

Read more: Pharmacy First threatens independents with ‘financial deficit’, warns NPA chief

It found that the closures have a “negative impact on affected communities”, inconvenience residents and can be “an economic blight” if closed pharmacies are not occupied.

Nevertheless, the report also found that the city continues to have “good pharmacy coverage”.

Read more: Avicenna pharmacies ‘feel the squeeze’ amid branch disposal plans

Given the “sufficient” number of pharmacies remaining, the report recommended that Liverpool’s PNA remained “fit-for-purpose”.

However, it suggested that a “a supplementary document to monitor current pharmacy provision” should be published before the PNA expires in 2025.

 

Fiveways: 60% rise in residents per pharmacy

 

Liverpool’s Fiveways neighbourhood was worst hit by closures and consolidations, the report revealed, seeing three of its eight pharmacies close since the city’s PNA was published.

In 2022, Fiveways had 4,518 residents per pharmacy, but this average rose by 60% to reach 7,228 residents per pharmacy at the time of the report.

Read more: Pharmacies treated as an ‘afterthought’ by government, says MP

Liverpool’s city centre, home to over 50,000 people, lost two of its ten pharmacies, leaving 6,337 residents per pharmacy, according to the report.

And it showed that just six of Liverpool’s thirteen neighbourhoods did not experience any pharmacy closures at all between October 2022 and this month. 

 

Third-most deprived local authority

 

Liverpool City Council’s PNA, which runs until 2025, found that 97% of residents surveyed found it “easy” or “quite easy” to access their pharmacy, at the time of its publication.

At the time of the 2022 PNA, there were an average of 4,314 residents per pharmacy across the city and Liverpool’s average “pharmacies per head of population” was higher than the Merseyside and England averages, according to the March report.

Read more: Rowlands ‘considering next steps’ after Liverpool merger rejected

It found that this had risen to 4,766 residents per pharmacy at the time of its writing.

The 2022 PNA said that Liverpool is the third-most deprived local authority in England, with 62% of the city in England’s “most deprived quintile” and 73,000 of its 500,000 residents living with two or more long-term conditions.

 

Five Boots closures this year

 

In December, Liverpool’s HWB was briefed that pharmacies faced growing workloads and a “real-terms 30% cut in funding”, and was told about “a number of pharmacy closures”.

According to a March 2024 supplementary statement to the PNA, two Boots pharmacies closed on March 1 and March 2.

Read more: 'Pharmacy wastelands’: Over 200 net closures in 2023 so far, DH admits

The February supplementary statement noted that one Boots branch had closed that month, while two Boots pharmacies closed in January according to that month’s supplementary statement.

Meanwhile, C+D revealed in June that the Pharmaceutical Services Regulation Committee for Cheshire and Merseyside had rejected an application from Rowlands to merge its branch on Lodge Lane with its store at The Elms, both in Liverpool’s L8 area.

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