A SURVEY has found Dorset has among the worst access to pharmacies, which could lead to longer waiting times for a Covid-19 jab in the coming months.

Research from online pharmacy Medicine Direct also revealed there will be no physical pharmacies left on England’s high streets by January 2069 should the rate of recent closures and funding cuts continue in the years to come.

The ‘Pharmacy Blackspots’ study reveals the towns and cities in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland with the worst access to pharmacies based on the amount of residents currently served by each pharmacy in their area.

With pharmacies playing an integral role in the ongoing rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine and with Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggesting no one in the UK will have to travel more than ten miles for their jab, a spokesman for Medicine Direct said these figures ‘could have significant implications on the mass rollout of jabs in the coming months’.

Dorset Echo: The 10 locations in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland with the fewest pharmacies per capita. Picture: Medicine Direct

Those living in Dorset within the DT postcode, which covers key areas such as Bridport, Dorchester, Gillingham, Sherborne, Weymouth and Lyme Regis, have the ninth worst access to a community pharmacy in the UK, with each of the areas’ 45 registered pharmacies responsible for 4,729 people each.

Salisbury is the location in which residents in England had the worst access to a pharmacy, where each physical location was found to serve approximately 5,956 people.

In contrast, parts of Central London had the best access to a pharmacy, with those residing in the EC postcode area having access to pharmacies responsible for 1,132 people each.

The study also identified the locations in England where pharmacies had the shortest lifespan, with those in Dorset lasting just 7.94 years on average from the time of opening – the second lowest in the UK.

Commenting on the results, Jon Higham, managing director at Medicine Direct, said: “While the COVID-19 vaccines are a huge step in the right direction for recovering from the ongoing pandemic, administering it presents a logistical conundrum and pharmacies play an important role and the necessity of community pharmacies and dispensaries has been thrown into question once again.

Dorset Echo: The 10 locations in England where pharmacies have the shortest lifespan. Picture: Medicine Direct

“However, it’s clear that supply and demand for these services vary drastically across the country, which could eventually result in longer waiting times for a vaccine in certain locations.

“However, the reality remains that pharmacies have been on the decline across the country - in part due to what the government has referred to as clustering, where multiple pharmacies exist within a 10 minute walk of one another.

“Clustering was the driving force behind the decision to cut funding to the pharmacy sector, and the reason why funding isn’t set to increase again, if at all, until 2024.

“Of course, rates of decline can flex and the COVID-19 pandemic may well bolster the industry.

“With that said, recent reports of Lloyds Pharmacy closing many of its branches suggest that, regardless of the pandemic, the stark finding that there could be no physical pharmacies left within our lifetime stands true.”