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Tesco slammed as Lancashire pharmacy branch faces potential slew of closures

Tesco Pharmacy has come under fire amid reports that one of its Lancashire branches could face full or part-day closures during much of August, while the supermarket chain has said it is still working to secure cover for the affected shifts.

Tesco has attributed these potential temporary closures to a lack of available pharmacists, C+D understands.

A notice, shared on social media, advised that customers should pick up their prescriptions at alternative pharmacies as the Tesco Pharmacy branch in Towngate, Leyland would be unable to dispense medication at certain times throughout August.

In a move condemned as "arrogant" on social media, the notice said that “unforeseen circumstances” had led to anticipated full or part-day closures at the branch for much of the month.

The supermarket chain appeared to distance itself from the notice, saying it is investigating its origin as this is not correct procedure.

However, C+D understands that the branch's team is still trying to find cover for the affected shifts, as well as to prevent future closures.

C+D understands that Tesco went ahead with the planned closure of its Leyland pharmacy on Tuesday (August 2) this week and also partially shut the pharmacy yesterday (August 3).  

Tesco is endeavouring to keep its pharmacies open wherever possible by ensuring they are sufficiently staffed, C+D understands.

 

 

Latest in a string of controversies

 

The subject of pharmacist shortages has been a divisive one, with some arguing that there is a concerning lack of pharmacists, while others maintain that the register has never been so full.

Tesco Pharmacy has faced controversy since it decided to introduce four fixed locum rates – capped £36 per hour for emergency cover – in its pharmacies from July.

Last month (July 19), the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) claimed that Tesco was shuttering its pharmacies when no cover could be found, after reportedly pressuring locum pharmacists to walk back on pre-agreed rates or risk losing out on shifts.

The supermarket did not directly address these allegations when approached for comment by C+D, pointing instead to its to fixed locum rate, which it believes will result in a higher hourly rate for most of the locums it engages.

 

Read more: Tesco Pharmacy stands by controversial leaflets in temporary closure latest

 

A spokesperson told C+D last month that Tesco’s pharmacy managers are “working to ensure [pharmacies] have the cover [they] need” in areas facing “particularly challenging” demand, in response to claims that it is unnecessarily closing pharmacies in the short-term.

The PDA published a scathing open letter last month, hitting out at “unnecessary” full- or part-day branch closures by some large community pharmacy chains, which prompted the Company Chemists’ Association to defend its membership for “working extraordinarily hard to prevent temporary closures”.

 

Read more: Off their trolley: Has Tesco Pharmacy pushed the locum rate row to new highs?

 

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