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GPs to appeal against pharmacy tenant’s decision to close over rent hike

A GP surgery plans to appeal the rent-related closure of a pharmacy on its premises because it will be “detrimental to the interests” of its patients, C+D has learned.

C+D revealed last month (March 31) that Weldricks Pharmacy has applied to merge two of its branches in the Rotherham area after rent increases by its GP landlord made premises unaffordable.

Read more: Weldricks forced to merge branches after GP landlord hikes rent by 25%

The multiple is looking to consolidate two pharmacies in Swinton – keeping its branch on Church Street and closing another based in GP practice the Crown Street Surgery.

But a spokesperson from the GP practice told C+D last week (April 3) that it plans to appeal against the closure, which has since been approved.

 

“Detrimental” to patients

 

“If we are allowed to, we will appeal against the closure as it will be detrimental to the interests of a huge section of Swinton residents”, Crown Street Surgery said.

It added that the closure would “mostly affect a large group of chronically ill patients with acute illnesses who currently enjoy getting their scripts without having to travel to another site”, as well as families with acutely unwell children.

Read more: Peak Pharmacy closes Derbyshire branch as funding calls intensify

And it urged health commissioners to “consider an alternative solution of allowing another contractor to run the pharmacy services in the surgery if Weldricks is unable to continue in that capacity”.

A spokesperson for NHS North East and Yorkshire confirmed to C+D that the GP practice will be able to submit an appeal to NHS Resolution.

However, the “decision to approve the application to consolidate the two Weldricks pharmacies in Swinton was made on the basis that granting the application would not create a gap in pharmaceutical services provision”, it said.

 

"Already getting a good deal”

 

Crown Street Surgery added that the rent review for the premises is “nearly nine months overdue” and that the increase in rent was “based on RPI figures” since the last review.

 

“In our opinion, Weldricks is already getting a good deal as the current rent is already low for a pharmacy based in a surgery of over 9,300 patients,” it said.

 

Read more: All Lloydspharmacy branches reportedly ‘at risk’ of closure

 

And it added that it is “good to have competition for pharmacy services as well as choice in a larger area of over 10,500 residents even if it means the two pharmacies are owned by the same company”.

 

“We would be happy to sit with Weldricks to find a solution that will have at its heart the best interests of Swinton patients,” it said.

 

The GP practice claimed that it has “not received any further communication” from Weldricks about the “rent review proposal”, apart from an initial acknowledgement to a formal letter sent in November.

 

 

Rent hike

 

 

Weldricks, which currently has 62 pharmacies across South Yorkshire and has been a local family-owned business for nearly 100 years, declined to comment further.

 

However, it said last month that it felt it had no choice but to close after the GP landlords upped its rent by 25%. 

 

Read more: ‘No assessment' of funding impact on pharmacy closures, says DH

 

Weldricks told C+D that “rather than pay out all that money in high rent to the GPs, which is not affordable in today’s funding environment”, it decided to invest it in its other Swinton premises, which it owns.

 

And it said that it made the decision to close one branch “with deep regret”, but that after taking “alternative steps” to reduce costs and resist closures, it had “run out of ways” to keep costs down.

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