The PSNC has urged the government to find “a credible successor” to the essential small pharmacies local pharmaceutical services (ESPLPS) scheme if patient access to quality health services in rural areas in England is to be preserved.
The scheme helped keep many rural pharmacies afloat for years but its closure two years ago increased the financial hardship of many, threatening to reduce pharmaceutical services in areas with older populations than in urban areas.
A House of Lords report which called on the government to consider re-opening the scheme and improving rural pharmaceutical services, noted the average age of rural populations was almost six times higher than in urban areas.
“Statistics also indicate that the number of over-65s is increasing much more sharply in rural areas than in urban areas. This inevitably places a greater challenge on rural health services owing to greater incidences of chronic illness, disability and mortality,” the report said.
The PSNC, who alongside Community Pharmacy Wales gave evidence to a House of Lords select committee inquiry backing the greater use of community pharmacies, said the government should replace the scheme and provide “additional funding.”
Pharmacy’s negotiator said: “PSNC submitted that to improve and maintain health services in rural areas, a credible successor to the ESPLPS scheme should be introduced, with additional funding, to safeguard patient access to smaller pharmacies in rural areas.”
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