England’s network of community pharmacies is “close to collapse”, with serious consequences for millions of patients, industry leaders have warned.
In a letter sent to Steve Barclay, the health secretary, they cautioned that “as a sector we are now at a fork in the road”, and urged him to “make a critical choice about the role you want pharmacies to play”.
The government has said it wants to make more use of community pharmacies in England to ease pressures on GP surgeries and accident and emergency departments. But the letter argues that funding cuts over the past seven years makes this goal unrealistic.
It warns: “Many pharmacies are now dispensing at a loss and facing a serious cashflow crisis which we fear if not addressed, will rapidly move towards many permanent closures. We fear that once they start, closures will be hard to stop, as the sector is now so fragile other pharmacies would struggle to pick up the slack.
“We are deeply concerned that this will put medicine supply at risk — with serious consequences for the millions of people who rely on dispensed prescriptions every year.”
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Source: The Times, 23 December 2022