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This annual statistical release presents information about community pharmacies in Wales in contract with health boards.
Community pharmacies are those found in cities, towns and villages across the country, for example on high streets, in supermarkets or within GP surgeries.
While essential services such as dispensing prescriptions remain the primary role of community pharmacies, most offer a range of additional NHS services, including discharge medicines reviews, emergency contraception, seasonal flu vaccine, common ailments service, and emergency medicine supply. New data for these services are summarised for 2021-22.
While community pharmacies implemented infection control procedures in line with COVID-19 guidance at various times during 2021-22, data collection procedures were not thought to be affected by the pandemic.
Statistics in this release are based on data provided by NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership (Pharmacy Services). Further information is available in the quality report.
Data used this release are published on StatsWales.
There has been little change in the number of community pharmacies in Wales over the past 10 years. There were the same number of pharmacies (712) on 31 March 2022 as there were there were on 31 March 2013.
Over the past 10 years, the number of independent pharmacies has decreased slightly, while the number of multiple/chain pharmacies has increased slightly.
The main source of data on prescriptions is in the annual Prescriptions in Wales release, which provides more detailed analysis on prescription items and costs.
77.5 million prescriptions were dispensed in community pharmacies in 2021-22. This excludes items dispensed by dispensing doctors and personally administered items prescribed and administered by a member of the general practice, which are included in the dispensed data shown in the Prescriptions in Wales release.
This is an average (mean) of nearly 110,000 per pharmacy, and an increase of 12% since 2012-13.
The number of prescription items dispensed has been on a gradual upward trend over the decade, increasing by 2% since last year and by 12% since 2012-13.
Discharge medicine reviews
Discharge Medicines Review Service (DMR) aims to provide support to patients recently discharged from hospital by ensuring that changes made to their medicines are enacted as intended in the community.
567 (or 80% of) pharmacies provided discharge medicines reviews in 2021-22. This increased from 76% of pharmacies offering it last year and 65% in 2012-13.
(a) This is the number of claims paid in the year, rather than the number of DMRs provided.
The number of discharge medicine reviews has been on an upward trend over the past 10 years and there were almost 13,900 in 2021-22. This is an average of 24 per community pharmacy offering the service.
Community pharmacies are able to provide emergency contraception and sexual health advice and was available in 644 (or 90% of) community pharmacies during 2021-22.
Emergency contraception was provided on nearly 32,000 occasions in 2021-22. This was an increase of 34% since 2020-21 (which was affected by the pandemic). However, the long-term trend has been downward and there were 12% fewer emergency contraceptives provided in the latest year than in 2014-15 (the first year of comparable data).
Close to 3 out of 5 women who requested emergency contraception during 2021-22 reported that they had not used contraception. A further third reported that their method of contraception failed.
Seasonal flu vaccine (SFV)
Community pharmacies can provide the NHS vaccination against seasonal influenza. The data in this release only includes individuals who are eligible for a seasonal flu vaccine funded by the NHS and have it administered in a community pharmacy. It does not include any individual who was eligible and had it administered by a GP or anyone who has paid for a vaccine privately at the pharmacy.
The seasonal flu vaccine was available in 644 (or 90% of) community pharmacies during 2021-22.
Just fewer than 170,000 seasonal flu vaccines were administered in community pharmacies in 2021-22 and almost 40,000 people received the vaccine for the first time. Of those people who had also received a seasonal vaccine in the previous year, just under half (45%) had it administered in their GP practice in the previous year.
58% of seasonal flu vaccines were administered to females and 42% to males, where sex was specified. This proportion has remained consistent since 2014-15 (first year data was available).
(a) This chart shows all reasons for eligibility, not the number of people who were eligible. If a single person met more than one criteria, all reasons are counted in this chart.
From 2021-22, data are available on the patient’s seasonal flu vaccine eligibility reason, including where they are eligible for more than one reason. Of those receiving the vaccine in 2021-22 almost 17,000 people were eligible in more than one category.
The large majority of patients were eligible because of their age, with more than 77,500 aged 50-64, and almost 65,000 aged 65 and over; while more than 13,000 were eligible because they had chronic respiratory disease.
Common ailments service
Community pharmacies can provide advice and support to people on the management of common minor ailments, including where appropriate, the supply of medicines for the treatment of that ailment, for those people who would have otherwise gone to their GP for advice or a prescription.
In 2021-22, 707 (or 99% of) community pharmacies in Wales provided consultations through the common ailments service.
The demand for common ailment service consultations was different depending on the time of year. The largest number of consultations occurred between January and March, with a further peak in June and July. The number of consultations was broadly similar in all other months.
There was a high concentration of consultations for both male and female children, with 1 in 4 (25%) consultations relating to children under age 16. A larger number of consultations were had with female patients than male, with close to two thirds (62%) of all consultations relating to females.
The distribution shows that there was a broadly similar number of consultations for adult males of all ages between 20 and 80. However, the number of consultations varied more widely by age for adult women, with peaks for women aged 30 to 40 and aged 50 to 60.
The most common ailment consulted on through the service was hay fever, with just fewer than 1 in 5 (18%) of all consultations. Other common ailments were conjunctivitis (15% of all consultations) and dry skin/dermatitis (12%).
Emergency medicine supply
The Emergency Medicine Supply service enables a pharmacist to supply a patient with their regular prescription-only medicines in emergency situations. Emergency situations include those where a patient may have run out, lost, damaged, or is otherwise unable to obtain a prescription before their next dose is due, and in the opinion of the pharmacist it would be detrimental to the patient’s health if they missed a dose of the medicine.
In 2021-22, 662 (or 93% of) community pharmacies in Wales provided emergency medicine supply.
The number of items supplied under the emergency medicine supply service has increased every year since data was first available in 2016-17. In 2021-22, just over 84,000 items were supplied, an increase of 58% since the previous year.
The medicinal product most commonly supplied by pharmacies in an emergency was the Ventolin 100microgram/dose evohaler containing the active ingredient salbutamol, which is generally used for the relief and prevention of asthma symptoms. Other commonly supplied items included medicines to treat and prevent stomach ulcers, to reduce high blood pressure or cholesterol levels, and to treat depression.
Note that the same medicine may appear more than once if it has been prescribed in different dosages/volumes.
Quality and methodology information
The data is provided by NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership (Pharmacy Services). Further information is available in the quality report.
The Medicine Use Review (MUR) service was suspended in March 2020 in response to the COVID pandemic. The service has recently been discontinued. Data for previous years is available in the statistical release for 2019-2020 and on StatsWales.
National Statistics status
The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.
National Statistics status means that official statistics meet the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and public value.
All official statistics should comply with all aspects of the Code of Practice for Statistics. They are awarded National Statistics status following an assessment by the UK Statistics Authority’s regulatory arm. The Authority considers whether the statistics meet the highest standards of Code compliance, including the value they add to public decisions and debate.
It is Welsh Government’s responsibility to maintain compliance with the standards expected of National Statistics. If we become concerned about whether these statistics are still meeting the appropriate standards, we will discuss any concerns with the Authority promptly. National Statistics status can be removed at any point when the highest standards are not maintained, and reinstated when standards are restored.
The continued designation of these statistics as National Statistics was confirmed in June 2012 following a compliance check by the Office for Statistics. These statistics are designated as National Statistics and last underwent a full review against the Code of Practice in 2012.
Since the latest review by the Office for Statistics Regulation, we have continued to comply with the Code of Practice for Statistics, and have made the following improvements:
- published the statistical release in html format, with more open data published on our StatsWales website
- updated the quality report and refreshed commentary in the release
Well-being of Future Generations Act (WFG)
The Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015 is about improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of Wales. The Act puts in place seven wellbeing goals for Wales. These are for a more equal, prosperous, resilient, healthier and globally responsible Wales, with cohesive communities and a vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language. Under section (10)(1) of the Act, the Welsh Ministers must (a) publish indicators (“national indicators”) that must be applied for the purpose of measuring progress towards the achievement of the wellbeing goals, and (b) lay a copy of the national indicators before Senedd Cymru. Under section 10(8) of the Well-being of Future Generations Act, where the Welsh Ministers revise the national indicators, they must as soon as reasonably practicable (a) publish the indicators as revised and (b) lay a copy of them before the Senedd. These national indicators were laid before the Senedd in 2021. The indicators laid on 14 December 2021 replace the set laid on 16 March 2016.
Information on the indicators, along with narratives for each of the wellbeing goals and associated technical information is available in the Wellbeing of Wales report.
Further information on the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.
The statistics included in this release could also provide supporting narrative to the national indicators and be used by public services boards in relation to their local wellbeing assessments and local wellbeing plans.