Pharmacies closing at alarming pace in Portsmouth as 20 per cent of facilities shut in five years

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Medical professionals gathered together to address concerns over the amount of pharmacies closing in Portsmouth.

Statistics show that the city has lost roughly 20 per cent of its pharmacies over the past five years – falling from 41 to 32. Boots pharmacy on Cosham High Street recently closed in October.

NHS leaders and industry professionals gathered together at the first pharmacy summit, which was hosted by Portsmouth City Council. Dr Raj Laly, director of Laly's Pharmacy, which has 11 chemists across Hampshire, said funding cuts are a partial cause of the closures.

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Boots Pharmacy, Cosham, which closed in October of this year.Boots Pharmacy, Cosham, which closed in October of this year.
Boots Pharmacy, Cosham, which closed in October of this year.

Staff shortages and rising costs are also considered factors. Dr Laly told the BBC: “It's at a time when the demand for what pharmacies are required to do has increased, so it's been very difficult for groups to survive.

"That's why you're seeing lost of closures happening at this time." Currently, there are just over 11,000 community chemists in England, according to data from NHS Business Services Authority.

That is the lowest number of professionals in the country since 2015. This is despite the NHS releasing a new delivery plan where people were encouraged to visit pharmacies in certain circumstances to reduce pressure on GPs.

The government announced in May that common prescription drugs, including antibiotics, would be prescribed from pharmacies. Routine tests would also be carried out, with NHS England stating the move would free up 15 million GP appointments over the next two years, which is around two per cent in total.

At the summit, Eastney & Craneswater councillor Matthew Winnington said people would be “stuck” without their pharmacy and “we really would fall apart” if more were to close.