What is a Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment?

A Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment (PNA) is a comprehensive assessment of the current and future pharmaceutical needs of the local population for community pharmacy, dispensing appliance contractors, and dispensing doctors in rural areas (where relevant).

NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE/I) uses the PNA, along with other information to:

  • Inform decisions regarding which NHS funded services need to be provided by community pharmacies and dispensing appliance contractors in Devon
  • Determine whether new or additional pharmaceutical services are required
  • Inform decision-making about the relocation of existing pharmaceutical premises in response to applications by providers of pharmaceutical services
  • Inform the commissioning of Local Enhanced Services from pharmacies

The Health and Wellbeing Board is not responsible for making the decision to open, consolidate or close pharmacy services.

If a gap (as defined below) is not identified in the PNA, this does not prevent an application being made. NHSE/I will review the PNA along with other information in their decision-making and may approve the application based on ‘unforeseen benefit’.

Where the health and wellbeing board does not identify any needs for, or improvements or better access to, pharmaceutical services within the pharmaceutical needs assessment the only types of application for new premises that could be submitted are those offering unforeseen benefits or for distance selling premises.

Gaps in Provision

Identifying Gaps in Current and Future Provision

Current Gaps in provision in the PNA are defined as:

  • Geographical gaps in the location of premises
  • Geographical gaps in the provision of services
  • Gaps in times and/or days services are provided

Future gaps in provision considers developments such as planned dwellings, relocation of services, regeneration projects etc in respect to the three variables mentioned.

This approach is suggested in the Department of Health and Social Care guidance 2021 (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pharmaceutical-needs-assessments-information-pack)

Gaps in provision (as defined above) are current at the time of writing the PNA. Pharmacy provision can change during the lifetime of the PNA. It is regularly reviewed, and supplementary statements are published if necessary to reflect the changes.

What is not considered in PNA’s

Performance aspects of a pharmacy do not form part of the PNA. Any issues around the following need to be communicated directly with NHSE/I or with the specific pharmacy. This list is not exhaustive.

  • Staffing
  • Overtime working
  • Configuration of pharmacy space
  • Waiting times
  • Prescription delays

Contact details for complaints relating to these issues – england.contactus@nhs.net