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Lloydspharmacy made 'commercial decision', stresses minister

The chair of the all-party pharmacy group (APPG) is “disappointed” with the government’s response to news of Lloydspharmacy shedding 190 branches, in a parliamentary meeting yesterday.

Lloydspharmacy parent company Celesio UK announced last week (October 26) it will cease trading in 190 “commercially unviable” branches across England, “through a combination of store closures and divestments”.

During an APPG session in parliament yesterday (October 30), Labour MP and group chair Kevin Barron said it was “deeply worried” by the multiple’s announcement.

In response, pharmacy minister Steve Brine stressed that Lloydspharmacy is a “commercial, private company”, which had made a “commercial decision”.

Mr Barron then pressed Mr Brine on why the government had touted its Pharmacy Access Scheme to protect rural pharmacies, and yet now faces “a situation where potentially you’re losing 190 [pharmacies] without any sort of: where is this going to happen?”.

The minister replied that Lloydspharmacy “hasn’t actually said where the closures are”, and pointed out the multiple is “looking closely” at these locations.

“The first I’d heard of it was when they decided to give me a one-hour heads-up on Thursday morning. They hadn’t talked to me before they made the announcement,” Mr Brine told the APPG.

But he added “the door is always open” when it comes to future communication with the multiple.

DH “monitoring” pharmacy closures

Department of Health (DH) head of pharmacy Jeannette Howe told the APPG the government is “monitoring what’s happening in the market”.

“We know the number of openings and closings, and we’ll keep a close look on that when it becomes clearer exactly what’s happening in respect of Lloydspharmacy.”

Speaking to C+D after the session, Mr Barron said it was “disappointing” the DH representatives had said “nothing about: ‘If Lloyds closes 190 [branches], we’re going to look into it’”.

“They didn’t say that,” he added. “All they [said] is it’s a commercial decision.”

“It seems to me like Lloyds caught them out.”

Mr Barron stressed this was “not the end of the debate”, and the APPG will continue to look into pharmacy closures “quite clearly”.

What do you make of the DH's comments?

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