Hundreds of local pharmacies close across England as sector ‘crumbles’, report says

More than 160 pharmacies across England have been forced to shut down over the last two years due to surging operational costs, staff shortages, and scrapped government financial support, a report has revealed.

The BBC was at pains to report on Monday that the number of community chemists has fallen to a record low since 2015, standing at about 11,000 chemists, according to data from NHS Business Services Authority. Without a chemist, the pharmacy is physically closed as many rely on a local chemist for advice and to pick up prescriptions.

According to the British pharmacists’ estimation, there has been a 30 percent cut in the government’s financial support over the last seven years, after taking account of inflation.

Despite the rising patient demand, the pharmacies are still struggling with the obstacles, with the government incapable of handling the crisis across the sector.

Meanwhile, this is not the end of the story across the British health system and the pharmacists are warning that the situation could get worse with many more local businesses being forced to close, without help.

“The sector is crumbling, and is going to fall down like a stack of dominoes, if there’s not intervention urgently,” said Sanjeev Panesar, a pharmacy owner in Birmingham.

“Things are in serious jeopardy. It’s our worst year ever, where we’ve made a loss. We have to make some really tough calls and decisions now,” he stressed.

Panesar called on political leaders, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, to urgently address the issue and relieve the pressure on pharmacies.

By way of background, a five-year contract was agreed between NHS England and the government in 2019 to support the sector, but pharmacists say it’s no match for the rise in prices.


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