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'Irreplaceable' Boots branch closes despite APPG chair campaign

Boots has confirmed that it will close a Coventry branch despite an attempted intervention by APPG chair Taiwo Owatemi.

MP for Coventry North West and chair of the All-Party Pharmacy Group (APPG) Ms Owatemi last week (November 1) said that she was “disappointed” that the “strength of feeling” of her constituents on the closure of a local Boots pharmacy was “not taken into consideration” . 


In a post on X - formerly known as Twitter - she added that she would be writing to the government to ask what it is “doing to halt pharmacy closures across the country”.


Read more: Revealed: 300 Boots branch closures to begin this month


It comes after Ms Owatemi had written to Boots to campaign against the closure of its branch in Jardine Crescent, Tile Hill, which C+D understands went ahead on October 28.


Ms Owatemi said in a post on X last month (October 20) that “many” of her constituents were “concerned about the closure” of the branch, with her “campaign to keep the pharmacy open” receiving “overwhelming support”.


Her petition against the closure - sent to the multiple on October 20 - racked up 996 signatures.



“Irreplaceable service”



In a letter sent to Boots UK and ROI managing director and senior vice president Sebastian James the same day, she said that the closure would be a “major blow for the local community” as the branch provides “an irreplaceable service” for those living in the area.


“This closure will result in the loss of much-needed healthcare provision, which will have a severely detrimental impact on staff, residents and the wider community, particularly impacting the elderly, disabled and families,” she added.


Read more: ‘Pharmageddon’: Boots sister company says US walkout had ‘little impact’


And she said that residents had described the pharmacy as a “fantastic asset” and “critical to the people in the area”, with “several” raising concerns about “travelling to their nearest pharmacy” if the closure were to go ahead.


“Important relationships” forged between patients and pharmacy staff - described as “helpful and friendly” by residents - during the COVID-19 pandemic when this was often the only face-to-face contact patients received will also be “lost” as a result of the closure, she added.


Read more: Tribunal: Boots pharmacist faced racial harassment and unfair dismissal


Ms Owatemi called on Mr James to take constituents’ views “into account” and “halt the closure” of the branch.


“I am calling on you to reconsider the plan to shut this store and work to ensure the pharmacy’s survival,” her letter urged.



Boots “not able to reverse” plans



A letter in response from Mr James, shared by Ms Owatemi, said that the multiple was “grateful” to her for sharing her constituents’ “feedback”.


“I absolutely recognise the strength of feeling in the local community about the pharmacy closure, as evidenced by the number of signatories to the petition,” Mr James said.


But he added that “unfortunately” the pharmacy closure would “proceed” nonetheless on October 28.


Read more: Boots joins UK retail giants to fund Home Office operation tackling shoplifting


“I can assure you that we have considered the situation very carefully and the decision was reviewed”, he said, adding that the “lease position on the property along with the store’s commercial performance” meant that Boots was “not able to reverse” its plans.


Mr James said that Boots has been “working closely” with the NHS and local GP practices to transfer patients to alternative pharmacies and that the multiple “remains committed” to supporting local residents.


“I appreciate that you and your constituents will be very disappointed,” he added. 


Read more: Pharmacist hailed ‘hero’ after saving woman’s life from ‘near-fatal’ bee sting

 

Boots declined to comment further.

 

It comes as Boots said last month that its “store consolidation programme”, which it announced along with plans to close 300 branches earlier this year, is progressing “as planned”

 

Meanwhile, Boots owner Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) has said that a three-day pharmacist walkout over patient safety at Boots’ US sister company Walgreens last week had minimal impact and did not affect the UK multiple.

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