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Peak Pharmacy closes Derbyshire branch as funding calls intensify

Peak Pharmacy has announced plans to close one of its branches and merge it with another in the same Derbyshire town as funding pressures continue to bite.

It comes amid urgent calls for more funding for England's community pharmacy sector, with pharmacy leaders warning of mass closures unless the government steps in.

The Peak Pharmacy on Chapel-en-le-Frith's high street will close and be merged with another of the chain's branches on Thornbrook Road later this year, the company confirmed to C+D last week (March 9).

Matt Webster, head of retail operations at the chain, said the two pharmacies are situated within “walking distance”, being  located just a “few hundred yards" apart.

It follows a "strategic review" by the chain, which concluded that it "made sense with two pharmacies in very close proximity to each other to consolidate into one premises", he told C+D.

Read more: Patient group: Over-60s ‘overwhelmingly’ prefer indies to supermarket pharmacies

“As is normally healthy of any pharmacy business, you do strategic reviews on a regular basis,” Mr Webster said.

“It’s a relatively isolated decision that we’ve taken but [we] cannot deny that the economic pressures of the sector were a driving force behind us making that decision in that one location,” he continued.

The decision to close the high street branch was not "taken lightly" as it is "very close to Peak Pharmacy's heart", he stressed

“But it was just a location where we felt we could continue to give great service to the town from just one premises instead of the two that we’d been running.”

According to its website, Peak Pharmacy owns over 140 pharmacies.

 

No job losses

 

Mr Webster was adamant that no staff would lose their jobs because of the merger.

“The intent all along is for moving all the staff with the patients so to speak so we’re not looking at any job losses as a result of this decision,” he said.

The move will see affected staff move to the Thornbrook road branch so that the pharmacy will “have all of the colleagues in one location rather than two”, he added.

Mr Webster could not confirm an exact date for the merger, although he said “the application has gone in” and it will happen “later this year”.

Peak Pharmacy will ensure patients are "well informed” of the change when there is a “definite date”, he added.

“We guarantee they’ll continue to get great service in the new location,” he stressed.

 

Funding pressures

 

It follows urgent calls from sector leaders to improve pharmacy funding, which has stayed at a flat rate since 2017.

For his part, Mr Webster said the “whole sector is under pressure in terms of funding”.

Calls for more funding for the community pharmacy sector have been increasing in recent weeks, with several pharmacy bodies joining forces to campaign on the issue.

Read more: Petition to 'save our pharmacies' tops 1.8k signatures in one day

The campaign's public petition to lobby the government for more funding garnered over 1,800 signatures in just one day.

Earlier this week, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) urged the government to pause the rollout of the upcoming Pharmacy Quality Scheme (PQS) unless it invests more money into community pharmacies.

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