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Publication, Part of

General Pharmaceutical Services in England 2008/09 - 2018/19 [NS] [PAS]

Publication Date:
Geographic Coverage:
Geographical Granularity:
Country, Regions
Date Range:
01 Apr 2008 to 31 Mar 2019

Background information


This annual publication pulls together data from various sources on specific parts of the community pharmacy and appliance contractor contractual frameworks, dispensing and appeals. Data provided in this publication comes from NHS Digital, NHS Prescription Services (a division of NHS Business Services Authority), NHS England and NHS Litigation Authority Family Health Services Appeal Unit. An appendix file of 6 data tables is provided.

It only includes community pharmacy and appliance contractors on the pharmaceutical list in England that were dispensing NHS prescriptions as at 31 March each year. Activity shown is for the whole year and includes activity carried out by community pharmacy contractors and appliance contractors who may not have been on the list as at 31 March due to a merger or closure mid-year.

Under the Medicines Act 1968, a pharmacy can only be registered by a pharmacist sole trader, a limited liability partnership (where all partners are pharmacists) or bodies corporate (where a superintendent pharmacist must be appointed). Bodies corporate include limited liability partnerships under the Companies Act 2006. These are collectively known as pharmacy contractors.

In this publication, community pharmacy contractors who own six or more pharmacies are known as ‘multiple contractors’ (also known as pharmacy chains). Those who own five or less pharmacies are known as ‘independents’.

The data collected and published assists the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to monitor the community pharmacy market and assess the impact of the current regulatory framework, particularly in relation to patient access and choice to inform and develop policy. In addition, there are a number of professional bodies who use the data to inform negotiation and commissioning of services including the Dispensing Doctors Association, National Pharmacy Association and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiation Committee (PSNC). The publication is also quoted in various professional journals and in the media.

Users should always use the figures in the latest publication to ensure they are the most up to date figures available.

Data for the devolved administrations is available directly from the relevant administration. Wales data is available from the Welsh Government. Scotland data is available from Information Services Division Scotland. Northern Ireland data is available from the Business Services Organisation

We welcome any comments and/or suggestions for improvement on the General Pharmaceutical Services publication. Please send them to

NHS (Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations

From 1 April 2013, NHS England became responsible for the commissioning of NHS pharmaceutical services in England and for negotiating changes to arrangements for the provision of services. The Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) for pharmacy contractors is set out in the 2013 regulations, plus The Pharmaceutical Services (Advanced and Enhanced Services) (England) Directions 2013, are contained within the Drug Tariff. Changes to the CPCF are negotiated between NHS Employers and the PSNC, who is the representative body of community pharmacists. The role of DHSC from April 2013 is to make necessary changes to the legislative framework.

Community pharmacy and appliance contractors

In order to be able to provide pharmaceutical services for the NHS, the 2013 regulations state that a person (other than doctors or dentists) must be included in a pharmaceutical list. NHS England is required to prepare and maintain lists of those who have been granted applications.

The list specifies both the premises and the named contractor. Community pharmacies can dispense both drugs and appliances, but appliance contractors are limited to the supply of appliances as listed in Part IXA, IXB and IXC of the Drug Tariff.  The Drug Tariff is published by NHS Prescription Services on behalf of the DHSC and Wales.


Appendix Table 5 covers information on NHS Pharmacy decisions made by NHS England. Under the 2013 regulations, applications can be made to open new premises or additional premises. There is also a distinction between controlled areas, whether the reserved location has been decided or not, and non-controlled areas.

Approval of an application does not necessarily result in the opening of a pharmacy.


Appendix Table 6 covers all applications that are appealed (where there is a provision under the regulations) to NHS Resolution, formerly known as the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) Family Health Services Appeal Unit (FHSAU). NHS Resolution determines appeals against decisions in accordance with the 2013 regulations concerning the provision of NHS pharmaceutical services.

Appeals generally relate to the proposed opening of a new pharmacy or relocation of an existing pharmacy. Under the regulations a refused applicant can appeal against the decision made by PCTs/NHS England. Persons who were not the applicant can also appeal against a decision to grant an application.

Services provided

The NHS Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework consists of three levels of services: Essential services; Advanced services; Enhanced and locally commissioned services.

Pharmacy owners (contractors) must provide Essential services, but they can choose whether they wish to provide Advanced or Enhanced services.

Data on the numbers of services being provided is available in the Appendix Tables. Further information on the types of services is available via the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee.

Last edited: 5 November 2019 10:25 am