HEREFORD has some of the worst access to community pharmacies in the country, research by an online pharmacy company has found.

As community pharmacies join the UK’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts this week, startling new analysis of NHS data has revealed the areas of the UK with the worst access to pharmacies, which could lead to longer waiting times for a jab in the coming months.

Medicine Direct's ‘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.

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. Hereford, with 5,510 people per pharmacy, and Reading, with 5,189 people per pharmacy, took second and third place.

In sharp contrast at the other end of the scale is central London, with 1,132 people per pharmacy, Lerwick in the Shetland Islands with 1,924 people per pharmacy, and Watford, with 2,375 per pharmacy.

With pharmacies playing an integral role in the ongoing rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine and with health secretary Matt Hancock suggesting noone in the UK will have to travel more than ten miles for their jab, these figures could have significant implications on the mass rollout of jabs in the coming months.

Although the number of people at each pharmacy is just one of many factors which will impact the rate at which the coronavirus vaccine can be rolled out, there is no doubt those serving the highest volumes of patients face a challenging logistical battle.

The research also found the total number of high street pharmacies in England has decreased by 26 each month over the last two years and also reveals that in England from January 2019 to November 2020 a total of 1,200 pharmacies closed with 614 opening, a net loss of 586 pharmacies.

Just 16,794 pharmacies remain in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, at a time where the UK health service is being stretched to its greatest levels in living memory.