As hundreds of pharmacies across the UK are being boarded up, new research has uncovered the grave concerns this is causing across the UK.
Based on an independent, nationally representative survey of more than 2,000 UK adults, the research found that 38% of UK adults fear pharmacy closures will negatively impact their health, making it harder to access the advice, medication and prescriptions they need. Meanwhile, 32% say they have been left without their repeat prescriptions because they cannot find the time to go between their GP and pharmacist. Worryingly, 60% have never heard of the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS), a digital solution that delivers people’s prescriptions to their home.
In a bid to alleviate the strain currently being placed on the public healthcare system, the NHS recently advised parents to take their children to a local pharmacy instead. The NHS stated that for 95% of the country, their local pharmacy is within walking distance; however, research suggests that figure is actually 70%.
The research also found 11% of people reporting that their nearest pharmacy has closed in the past 12 months or is due to shut down in the near future. Furthermore, for 43% of respondents, having to go to the next nearest pharmacy would take at least an additional 15 minutes of travel time.
Moreover, as access to high street pharmacies worsens, people are turning to questionable alternatives, with 39% preferring to use search engines instead of visiting a pharmacist or GP, and 14% becoming more reliant on NHS hospitals and A&E departments when health issues arise. This is despite the NHS encouraging people to rely more on pharmacies than local hospitals.
The study comes as analysis of NHS figures by PharmData in late 2017 revealed that around 2,700 community pharmacies could be at risk of closure in the near future because they are financially unviable.
Past research by Pharmacy Outlet in 2017 found that three fifths (61%) of UK adults had little faith in the Government’s ability to protect and improve public healthcare between now and 2022. It also revealed that nearly one in five (18%) were even considering private healthcare as the NHS struggles to cope with demand.
Hitesh Dodhia, Superintendent Pharmacist at Pharmacy Outlet commented on the findings: “Today’s research shows that the cracks in the UK’s healthcare sector are widening. With A&E departments and NHS hospitals struggling to cope with demand, it would be great to see pharmacies play a more central role in providing health and care services – but as more and more local pharmacies close, this is no longer a viable solution for everyone.”
“It is also worrying to see so many people across the UK missing their repeat prescriptions because of the challenges involved with going back-and-forth between their GP and pharmacy. With EPS on hand to deliver people’s medication straight to their home, it is clear the more must be done to raise the awareness and uptake of this initiative.”