A Suffolk MP has expressed his concerns that the region, as well as the whole country, may soon move into a "pharmacy wasteland". 

Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, raised the issue of community pharmacies closing down and leaving residents without vital help in Parliament. 

According to the NHS, 222 pharmacies closed in England in the first six months of 2023, including six in Suffolk.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Aldous said: "Community pharmacies are embedded in all our communities.  

Ipswich Star: Peter Aldous, MP for WaveneyPeter Aldous, MP for Waveney (Image: PA)

"They are the silent partners of the health and care system, and we've probably taken them for granted. 

"All of a sudden there are fewer of them on our high streets, and there is a danger; we've had dentistry deserts, and we might be moving towards a situation of pharmacy wastelands." 

The MP added that community pharmacies play an important role, which was seen during the pandemic with vaccinations as well as during colder seasons with flu jabs and Covid boosters. 

The problem of community pharmacies shutting down has also affected Suffolk. 

In January, LloydsPharmacy confirmed it was closing its outlets inside Sainsbury's stores in Ipswich, Sudbury, Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill. 

Boots stores in Felixstowe and Woodbridge are also believed to be at risk of closing down. 

Community Pharmacy England, which represents the sector, asked for an "urgent uplift" in government funding support last year. 

Ipswich Star: Pharmacies have closed across SuffolkPharmacies have closed across Suffolk (Image: Newsquest)

A spokesman for Community Pharmacy Suffolk said: "Pharmacies have been steadfast on the high street for years, now their viability is in jeopardy.

"We have lost six Suffolk pharmacies this year alone and sadly there will be more.
"Financial pressures, medicine supply issues, a workforce crisis and regulatory reforms are needed urgently to provide hard working teams with the support they require and deserve.
"Community pharmacies have repeatedly proven that they are a key provider of healthcare services. Across Suffolk & North East Essex we have a huge 65 pharmacies signed up to deliver the Covid-19 vaccination programme this Autumn."

Mr Aldous added: "I've visited pharmacies in Suffolk, and they're under an awful lot of pressure. 

"They face financial pressure, challenges in recruiting pharmacists so they can operate, and also challenges in regards to regulations. 

"If we don’t address this issue, it could turn into a torrent, which would be a tragedy when you take into account the great work that community pharmacists have done for over 175 years and also the work that the government wants them to do in improving access and the quality of primary care." 

Mr Aldous added that Suffolk will receive a share of £645million of the new governmental scheme called Pharmacy First to support community pharmacies.