Some pharmacies in Northumberland forced to close after becoming financially unviable

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Northumberland has ‘adequate provision’ of NHS pharmacies despite some having to close as they were no longer financially viable.

That is the finding from Northumberland County Council via a report presented to members of the health and wellbeing board.

The report followed a county-wide consultation with stakeholders as well as all GP practices and parish councils.

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In addition, Healthwatch Northumberland obtained 650 responses via a public engagement exercise.

Concerns have been raised about pharmacy provision.Concerns have been raised about pharmacy provision.
Concerns have been raised about pharmacy provision.

Anne Everden, the council’s public health pharmacy advisor, acknowledged the sector had faced some challenges including the rise of internet pharmacies.

She said: “Only a small percentage of patients seem to have moved over to internet pharmacies. I thought with the pandemic more people might have moved, but it is not the case.

“There is still a lot of pressure on community pharmacies and we can expect to see more closures in the future.

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"One of the big issues I can see are the Tesco stores. I have heard they have been closing their pharmacies and that would be an issue because we’re very dependent on Tesco in Hexham and Berwick for out of hours pharmacy services.

Dr Jane Lothian, chief officer at the Northumberland Local Medical Committee, said: “Never in the past would you have thought that pharmacies would not be financially viable but with the internet that is now the case.

“At the end of the day if there are any pharmacies that can’t open this is a real issue. We have to think innovatively to provide the services for our particular population.”

The report acknowledged that ‘any loss of 100 hour pharmacies or reduction in supplementary hours may lead to gaps in pharmacy services’.