Are pharmacy closures putting patients at risk?

Stephanie Prior

Table of Contents

It has been reported in the press that chemist closures will have an impact on patients living in deprived or poorer areas of the UK. In turn, this could have an impact on life expectancy, which has been suggested is shorter in poorer areas of England.

Apparently, more than 100 chemists have closed in the past two years and it is reported that between 2015 and 2022 there was a net loss of 670 pharmacies in England, with Lloyds Pharmacy confirming that it will close 237 branches from the beginning of this year. Lloyds will close all outlets in Sainsbury’s stores. This is a shame for people who combine a visit to the supermarket with a visit to the chemist.

This situation regarding closures is challenging given that the Government backed NHS England plan encourages patients to seek advice from their local chemist rather than their GP, for minor ailments. This begs the question as to where these patients will go for support and advice and who is going to deal with the extra capacity of patients seeking advice when there are less services in the community.

Sharn Dev who has been a pharmacist for 20 years has stated ‘that closures in deprived areas could put patients at risk … if you’re getting less care, it’s a given that there is going to be less identification of risk factors.’

Pharmacist have an important role in identifying conditions such as for example, high blood pressure and they can then assist with treatment and prevent further more serious medical issues developing, even though according to Mr Dev there is little financial benefit for pharmacists to do such work.

Pharmacists may also assess patients and triage patients who present at a pharmacy with a minor ailment, which may be a symptom of a more significant medical issue. In this respect, the role of the Pharmacist is paramount in patient care. Closing chemists will indeed have an impact on life expectancy. Patients who cannot afford private health care or do not have the luxury of an efficient local GP service will suffer. They will not have access to services that they require and disadvantaged parts of England will suffer the most.

Analysis from Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) has revealed that 37% of pharmacy and GP closures are in deprived neighbourhoods in England. Nothing is replacing these services and so it follows that patients will have to travel further outside the area they live to seek advice and service from a chemist. Not all patients can afford to do this due to the cost of living crisis or travel due to medical / health issues. This in turn will have an enormous affect on the wellbeing of people living in the affected areas of the UK.

Again, this is another example of NHS cutbacks. Such cutbacks have a domino affect on society and a huge impact on everyday people who need to seek advice, prescriptions and treatment from their local pharmacist.

How Osbornes Law can help

Unfortunately many people are contacting our specialist medical negligence lawyers following a delay in diagnosing a health problem or after experiencing a delay in receiving appropriate treatment. In some cases such failures amount to negligent treatment. Based on the facts of a case, our experienced lawyers can advice you on whether a claim can be pursued against an NHS Trust. Please contact Stephanie Prior or her team to find out more.

Our website also contains lots of useful information and frequently asked questions you might have in bringing a claim, including details on going through the NHS complaints procedure.

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