Report published on extent of pharmacy services in England

NHS Business Services Authority has today published figures on activity carried out by community pharmacies and appliance contractors in England.

The General Pharmaceutical Services report provides information on community pharmacies and appliance contractors in England, the NHS services they provided and associated costs, between 2015/16 to 2020/21. It is a National Statistics publication and is the only national level dataset that shows this information.

Key findings of the report:

There were 11,600 active community pharmacies and 112 active appliance contractors in England during 2020/21. 236 new pharmacies opened during 2020/21, while 451 closed. This is the lowest number of active contractors since 2015/16.

1.03 billion prescription items were dispensed by community pharmacies and appliance contractors in England in 2020/21. This is a 1.79% decrease from the number of items dispensed in 2019/20 but still a 2.35% increase in items dispensed since 2015/16.

964 million prescription items were dispensed via the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) in 2020/21, 93.9% of all items dispensed in the year by community pharmacies and appliance contractors. This is an increase of 58.6 percentage points from 2015/16.

The cost of drugs and appliances reimbursed to community pharmacies and appliance contractors totalled £8.97 billion in 2020/21. This was an increase of 3.72% from £8.65 billion in 2019/20 and a six year high despite the reduction in dispensed items in 2020/21.

2.77 million seasonal influenza vaccines were administered by community pharmacies in 2020/21. This was a 60.9% increase from the 1.72 million vaccines administered in 2019/2020 and a 365% increase on the 595 thousand vaccines administered in 2015/16.

To read the full report go to:

Contact Information

Sahdia Hassen

Senior Media and Campaigns Officer

NHS Business Services Authority

Notes to editors

Please note:

  • Please get in touch if you are unsure of the statistics above. This is important to ensure that the figures are not misunderstood or misrepresented and we have a fast response rate.
  • Prescription ‘items’ refer to individual drugs or inhalers etc on a prescription form, however a ‘prescription’ can include multiple medicines on it.
  • These statistics are based on the financial year and not on the calendar year as some other sources of data may be.