The community pharmacy sector in England has experienced a net loss of 432 bricks and mortar pharmacies over the last financial year, according to new analysis from the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA).

This equates to more than eight pharmacies permanently closing each week, the CCA said.

Over a third (34.9%) of closures that have taken place over the last nine years happened in more deprived areas.

CCA chief executive Malcolm Harrison said pharmacies were closing ‘at an unprecedented rate’, suggesting that ‘the real-terms cut to core funding of over 30% since 2015’ was ‘simply untenable’.

He added: ‘Pharmacies cannot be expected to operate at a loss, and effectively subsidise the NHS, any longer. Without significant additional funding, fewer pharmacies will result in patients finding it even harder to access the medicines and clinical NHS care that they need.’

According to the CCA’s data, the financial year 2023-24 saw the largest decrease in community pharmacy numbers since 2015, with a net loss of 432 pharmacies compared to 78 in 2022-23 and 82 in 2021-22.

Before that, there was a net loss of 213 pharmacies in 2020-21, 134 in 2019-20 and 109 in 2018-19.

And in 2017-18, the sector lost 95 pharmacies, compared to 21 in 2016-17 and just 16 in 2015-16.

The analysis is based on eDispensary data from 1 April 2015 and 24 February 2024, downloaded from NHS Digital’s Organisation Data Service, checked where necessary against data from the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and the NHS, and compared to deprivation levels as per the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities English Indices of Deprivation 2019 postcode look up tool.