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General Pharmaceutical Services in England 2015/16 - 2022/23

Published 12 October 2023


Community pharmacies and appliance contractors are responsible for dispensing medications, appliances, and medical devices to NHS patients. They are not a direct part of the NHS but provide essential services on behalf of the NHS to the general public.

This publication aims to describe the essential and advanced services that community pharmacies and appliance contractors provide, along with some of their associated costs.

The General Pharmaceutical Services (GPhS) publication is an accredited official statistic release. Accredited official statistics status means that GPhS meets the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality, public value, and complies with all aspects of the Code of Practice for Statistics.

The designation of this publication as an accredited official statistic was confirmed in December 2021 following an independent review by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR).

You can read more about this confirmation and the independent review of these statistics on the OSR website.

Key findings

In England in 2022/23 for community pharmacies and appliance contractors:

  • there were 11,414 active community pharmacies and 111 active appliance contractors  - This is the lowest number of active dispensing contractors since 2015/16
  • a total of 297 new pharmacies opened, while 388 pharmacies closed
  • 1.08 billion prescription items were dispensed by community pharmacies - This is a 3.4% increase from 2021/22
  • 11 million prescription items were dispensed by appliance contractors - This is a 2% increase from 2021/22
  • 1.04 billion prescription items were dispensed via the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) - 96% of all items dispensed which is a small increase from 2021/22
  • the cost of drugs and appliances reimbursed totalled £9.7 billion - This is a 7.5% increase from 2021/22

Resource list

General Pharmaceutical Services in England 2015/16 - 2022/23 - Statistical summary narrative (HTML)

Supporting summary tables (Excel: 110KB)

Background information and methodology note (HTML)

Pre-release access list (HTML)


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Responsible statistician: Kirsty Gray