The closures all occurred between October 2016 and July 2018, PSNC said. Over half were multiples, and the closures were spread across the country and across pharmacies of varying sizes in a “mixed picture”, the negotiator’s director of funding Mike Dent told contractors at PSNC’s local pharmaceutical committee conference in Birmingham on Wednesday (September 26).
The “about 165” figure is an increase on the 140 pharmacy closures C+D identified between November 2016 – the month before the 12% funding cut came into force in England – and May 2018. You can read C+D’s in-depth analysis of where these closures were located, and who closed them, here.
PSNC’s estimate also marks a steep increase in closures rates. According to data from NHS Digital, an average of 40 pharmacies closed every year up to 2016.
When asked by a conference delegate how many pharmacies the government is willing to fund, PSNC CEO Simon Dukes said this “is not something [officials] will ever” give a figure for, and stressed that past references to a target number of pharmacy closures should be forgotten.
Contractors “absorbing” the funding cuts
Mr Dukes praised contractors for having “insulated” patients from the full effects of the funding cuts, but he suggested that measuring the real impact on the sector would be difficult because community pharmacy has been “absorbing the hit” by “using up reserves, using credit, taking out loans and subsidising their business”.
“This is no way to run a key part of the healthcare system,” he stressed. “We have to work with the government as an absolute priority to find a better way.”