Swindon and Wiltshire have among the fewest number of pharmacists per person in the country according to a new study.

Figures show there are 2.1 pharmacists per 10,000 GP patients within the Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire NHS region.

It tails behind the average of 2.9 fo the UK, and way behind the highest ratios found in Birmingham of 3.5 pharmacists per 10,000 patients.

It comes as councillors say patients are struggling to get prescriptions and long waits at pharmacies.

In addition, the region has the second-highest vacancy rate for pharmacists in the UK.

Wiltshire Times: The national average currently sits at 2.9 pharmacists per 10000 GP patients.The national average currently sits at 2.9 pharmacists per 10000 GP patients. (Image: BSW ICB)

A reporter of the issues was presented to Wiltshire Council’s Health Select Committee last week, which has requested an update on community pharmacies as they are now managed locally by the Integrated Care Board (ICB).

Victoria Stanley, the programme lead for BSW Community Pharmacy, Optometry and Dentistry said: “There is a piece of work ongoing at the moment to understand (the vacancy issue) a little bit more, why that is, and also to then understand how we can promote community pharmacy as a profession.”

Councillor Pip Ridout expressed her concerns about pharmacy provision in Warminster following recent closures, referring to “inequalities” in access.

Meanwhile, Councillor Monica Devendran, representing Amesbury, said: “I’ve gathered numerous letters from concerned residents who have expressed difficulties accessing timely and efficient pharmacy services.

“Residents, particularly the elderly and those with health issues, have expressed their experiences of long waits in adverse weather conditions and lack of shelter.

“Additionally, residents have written to me conveying that the current pharmacies are unable to cope with the influx of customers during the peak times, resulting in extended waiting periods and potential delays in receiving essential medication.”

According to the report, there are 64 community pharmacies in Wiltshire.

On an average day 50,000 items are dispensed across BSW and community pharmacies see nearly 3,000 walk-in consultations, which is 20 per day per pharmacy.

In recent years, community pharmacists have been developing clinical services beyond the traditional role of dispensing prescriptions written by doctors.

These services now include undertaking minor illness referrals and partaking in the COVID-19 and flu vaccination programmes.

BSW ICB has commissioned community pharmacies also to help patients who don’t have a prescription with issues such as urinary tract infections, impetigo, pain and inflammation, conjunctivitis and sore throats.

The report showed that 88 per cent of these patients would otherwise have had to attend a GP appointment.  

The National Pharmacy Integration Fund is designed to help develop community pharmacies within the NHS to relieve the pressure on other services.

Wiltshire’s Health Select Committee has requested another update on community pharmacies in 2024, with a focus on the issue of provision inequalities across the county.