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Boots backs up Rowlands’ objection to reopening of Swindon pharmacy

Boots has voiced objections to the reopening of a former Rowlands branch in Swindon on the grounds that it believes there is no “requirement” for another pharmacy in the area, according to a report in the local press.

It comes after Rowlands closed one of its branches in Swindon last October despite local outcry – instead directing patients to a different Rowlands pharmacy nearby. C+D understands it has since blocked an attempt to reopen the pharmacy by appealing to NHS Resolutions.


Read more: Community ‘shocked’ that Rowlands pharmacy will close after NHSE&I rejected merger


In response to the appeal, which is currently being consulted on, Boots confirmed to NHS Resolutions that it does not “believe that there is a requirement for an additional contract in this locality”, according to a letter shared with the Swindon Advertiser.

It has not “had sight of any evidence” of difficulty patients have experienced in accessing the other local Rowlands branch, the letter added.


Boots: “NHSE&I requests the view of interested parties”


A spokesperson from Boots told C+D yesterday (May 31) that “as with all new pharmacy contract applications, NHSE&I requests the view of interested parties as part of the consultation process”.

When Rowlands objected to the reopening of the pharmacy in March, a spokesperson told C+D that access to and the “provision of pharmaceutical care within a locality are controlled under regulations assessed by local NHS authorities”.


Read more: NHSE&I and local council halt Rowlands’ plans to merge two pharmacies


The multiple “stands by the process in which decisions on pharmaceutical service provision are made” and “has contributed to the regulatory proceedings and shared insights around the level of need in the local area”, they added.


Appeal “in consultation phase”


Meanwhile, a spokesperson for NHS Resolutions confirmed to C+D today (June 1) that it is currently considering an appeal “regarding an application at Rodbourne Road, Swindon”.

In accordance with standard procedures under the NHS Regulations 2013 act, it has “consulted all relevant parties”, they added.

“Representations received from those relevant parties will be carefully considered before NHS Resolution makes its determination,” they told C+D.

Once a decision has been made, NHS Resolution’s determination will be published on its website, the spokesperson commented.


Read more: Merge and close arrangements don't give the certainty pharmacy craves, as a recent Rowlands case shows


How did we get here?


In June 2021, Rowlands' plans to merge the two Swindon pharmacies were halted temporarily following protests by locals and local councillors, who voiced concerns over the accessibility of the remaining branch.

However, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) South West region ultimately deemed the planned closure of the Rodbourne Road branch “a business decision, entirely in the hands of the owners and permitted under pharmacy regulations”.

In October, Rowlands shut the Rodbourne Road branch, instead directing its customers to another of its branches, which sits just “788 metres away” on Park Lane.




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