Results and recommendations following our survey regarding pharmacy closures in Cranleigh and Burpham and Merrow areas and their impact on local residents.

Access to primary care

In light of the directive from the Surrey Health and Wellbeing Board meeting in March 2024, requesting that the Surrey Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment (PNA) be re-opened, we set out to build an accurate picture of the level and nature of the impact which the closures of local pharmacies in Cranleigh, Merrow and Burpham were having / will have on the local population.

Our main engagement mechanism was an online survey. We also had paper copies of the survey available, and, following requests from local residents, ensured these were available for distribution to community groups.

Our survey findings

  • Residents value the service and clinical expertise which their local pharmacy can provide – they are often the most visible and accessible part of the health system.
  • The impact of the closure of one pharmacy on the alternative provision in the area is a huge concern for local residents – if alternatives don’t meet their needs in terms of capacity, space or opening hours the value of the service is hugely reduced.
  • Travel distance from home is the most important core indicator for people when visiting a pharmacy, but this is more complex than a crude mileage value – people need to be able to walk, or have reliable / accessible / affordable public transport options.
  • Good customers service is also considered to be critically important, but people’s confidence in this is eroded if a pharmacy is seen to not have sufficient capacity.
  • Some of those affected are not online, and therefore their voices may not be heard as part of the Citizens Panel.

Our recommendations

Based on the survey findings, Healthwatch Surrey have recommended the following to the Surrey Pharmaceutica Needs Assessment (PNA) Steering Group:

  1. When evaluating existing / changes to pharmacy provision, the real impact on local residents – based on what they are saying, not a generic distance metric – should be considered.
  2. Consideration of alternative pharmacy provision must take in to account opening hours and capacity to deal with increased customer numbers.
  3. How easily residents can walk / get public transport to a pharmacy – and specific local needs in this regard based on local demographics- should help to determine what is considered as “acceptable”.
  4. Local residents should be kept informed about changes to pharmacy provision in their area, including alternatives in light of planned closures. This recommendation reflects that of Healthwatch England at a national level.*
  5. A range of opportunities to for people to share their views should be offered to residents across Surrey, including non-digital methods.

Further background and details of our findings can be found in our report below.

We also undertook the same survey in the Thames Ditton area. Details of these results can be found in our What we’re hearing about pharmacy provision in Thames Ditton report.

We have also created a one page summary.

What we’re hearing about pharmacy provision in Guildford and Waverley (pdf) Download File (pdf 737.86 KB)
What we’re hearing about pharmacy provision in Guildford and Waverley (word) Download File (vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document 1.15 MB)

“The Merrow Park closure had a big impact. The pharmacy was part of the community, conveniently located and brilliant for advice for minor ailments. It has become much harder to get prescriptions, and even harder to get advice instead of going to the GP as it feels like pharmacy staff in our remaining pharmacy on Epsom Road are doing their best, but too busy. There is no privacy. The pharmacy is small, and I don't feel I can take the time to talk to staff as so many people are waiting in line.”