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Number of pharmacies to rise despite end of 100-hour threat

Business As those already granted 100-hour contracts prepare to open their premises this year, government figures forecast a hike of nearly 300 in pharmacy numbers over the next decade.

Pharmacy numbers will continue to grow over the coming months and years, experts have warned, despite 100-hour pharmacies no longer representing a guaranteed entry into the market.

Brokerage and advisory group Christie + Co told C+D that it expected to see further growth in the market over the next year as 100-hour pharmacies that had already been granted their contracts opened.

"Many independents have existed under a cloud for the last few years, not knowing if their business will be decimated by a new 100-hour contract" Anne Hutchings, Hutchings Consultants

More on 100-hour pharmacies

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And government figures, released as the 100-hour pharmacy exemption was removed last week, forecast that pharmacy numbers would rise by 293 over the next 10 years.

However, the government said that this growth would be much slower than it would have been without removal of the exemption, preventing a potential 1,242 additional pharmacies from opening over the 10-year period.

The first quarter of this year alone saw nearly 100 more pharmacies join the register, taking the total figure to 13,910, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) recorded. And Christie + Co said it expected the high growth rate to continue over the next year.

"As would be expected, the acceleration in openings is largely attributed to new 100-hour pharmacies," said Christie + Co head of medical advisory Matthew Williamson. "While the new market entry provisions remove the possibility of further applications, there are a substantial number of approved 100-hour contracts that are yet to open and it could be a further 12 months before the effect of [removing the] exemption fully washes through."   But Hutchings Consultants managing director Anne Hutchings said many of these new pharmacies could be forced to close. "I think some 100-hour pharmacies will be closing because I am aware that some of these are making losses and are not sustainable," she told C+D.   Ms Hutchings added that the removal of the 100-hour exemption would bring more stability to the pharmacy market. "Many independents have existed under a cloud for the past few years, not knowing if their business will be decimated by a new 100-hour contract opening up next door or nearby," she said. "The new regulations should give contractors the confidence to invest in their pharmacies."

Can the sector's network cope with the rising number of pharmacies?

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Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

I think that this news bodes well for the community sector and lets hope all existing pharmacies survive and their is consolidation and further growth. As Gary Paragapuri Labour supported survey shows that their is a gap to fill and the ethical use of PGDs and independent prescribing to support a national minor ailments scheme and long term management of chronic conditions could be the way forward for the sector.

JULIA MERVYN-SMITH, Locum pharmacist

Although I never used to agree with 100 hr pharmacies now is a very bad time to abolish these contracts when there is a glut of pharmacists now with less working hours to go round.Perhaps the society should address this issue before this 'profession' disappears any further down the toilet.
Totally disillusioned pharmacist

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Julia there is merit in what you say and there needs to be some consensus in the community sector on how new pharmacy openings can be done fairly in the future. Going forward more jobs and growth will come from developing SME's and supporting independent community pharmacy for single stand alone to medium sized traders may need to be given a leg up to keep the sector competitive and allow broader patient choice.

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