It is the season of surveys and one of the latest is on pharmacy provision in Shropshire.

Although this survey has flaws, it is important that people take part in this consultation to highlight the problems we have been facing in Ludlow over the last year when pharmacies have closed without notice or have provided limited services due to a lack of staff. Attracting permanent pharmacists and locums to our town has proved difficult. This has made harder for people pick up their medications and has increased the pressures on other staff in the pharmacy.

The survey is being conducted by the NHS STW ICS (in plain English, Shropshire’s health managers) and is centred a formal consultation for the annual Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment for Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin. This is 162 pages and more than 135,000 words long and can best be described as formal and detailed. It is not a suitable document with which to consult with the general public.

You don’t need to read it all. To help you through the survey, I provide a brief summary below of the important points for us in the south of the county and in Ludlow below.

Shropshire has a around a third fewer pharmacies per head of population than the rest of England. There is limited pharmacy provision on Sunday’s especially in the south of the county. There is a need to look at the number of pharmacies in the light of Shropshire’s growing population.

The Needs Assessment makes a number of recommendations:

  • Review and expand the opening times of pharmacies on Sundays specifically in South Shropshire.
  • More integrated working between pharmacists
  • Improve communications about the range of services provided in pharmacies, including online.
  • Support the delivery of community-based services in pharmacies.
  • Consider the impact on provision of nearly 30,000 new homes in Shropshire by 2038.

There are 66 pharmacies Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin:

  • 47 community pharmacies (Boots, Lloyds, etc.)
  • 17 pharmacies based in GP practices
  • 1 distance pharmacy.

In my response, I will emphasise the need for a new measure of the percentage of advertised hours the pharmacies are actually open. The repeated closures without notice are damaging patients’ confidence in local provision of medication and many people are turning to online services that deliver to homes. I’ll add that one of our pharmacies, Boots, need more space to operate effectively. We can’t continue with locum and short-term pharmacists.

Take part in the survey here. Closing date 20 September.

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