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England now has more than 10,000 community pharmacy contractors for the first time in a decade, a report for The Information Centre for health and social care has revealed.
The report, General Pharmaceutical Services in England and Wales 2006-7, showed the number reached 10,133 in March 2007 – a rise of 257 (2.6 per cent) from the previous year.
During the same period, the combined total for England and Wales increased by 2.4 per cent from 10,580 to 10,839.
The report focused on community pharmacies, which are contracted by Primary Care Trusts and Local Health Boards to dispense NHS prescriptions and provide a range of additional services.
It found the number of prescription items dispensed by community pharmacies in England and Wales followed the trend of recent years by again rising, this time by 31.4 million, to reach 745 million for 2006-7.
During the same period community pharmacists conducted 579,965 medicine use reviews – more than three times the number that took place during 2005-6 (the first year of the new community contract for England and Wales). The number of local enhanced services provided rose 26 per cent to 22,416.
According to the PCTs and LHBs, 270 new pharmacies opened and 55 closed between 1 April 2006 and 31 March 2007.
During that period, PCTs approved 316 of 392 applications for pharmaceutical services exempt from the control of entry regulations.
The total number of applications included 319 applications from pharmacies intending to open 100 or more hours per week; 34 applications for pharmacies in out-of-town large shopping developments; 27 applications for mail order or internet based pharmacy services; 12 applications for pharmacies in new one-stop primary care centres.