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Asda pharmacy set to close amid drop in footfall and locum ‘staffing gaps’

The “difficult decision” to close an Asda pharmacy branch comes after “long-term underfunding” and difficulty securing pharmacists, the supermarket has said.  

After being “loss-making for a number of years due to a continuous decline in customer usage”, Asda has earmarked a branch in Bodwin, Cornwall, for closure.

A spokesperson told C+D yesterday (April 29) that the multiple has “now reached a position where it is no longer financially viable to keep it open”.

The supermarket told C+D that it has tried several initiatives to improve profitability including changing the opening hours and introducing healthcare partnerships.

But in a letter sent to local MP Scott Mann, it admitted that “the key additional challenge at Asda Bodmin is that there are simply not enough pharmacists in the local area”.

“We rely 100% on locum resource for this site, which can only be secured at a substantial cost and, due to limited availability, can lead to staffing gaps”, it added.

“Consequently, resource pressures have led to frequent closures,” the letter said.

Due to difficulties securing staff, retaining customers and “significant financial pressure, owing to long-term underfunding”, the multiple said it has “made the difficult decision to go ahead with this proposal”.

“We are working towards a closing date of July 31”, it said, adding that it will enter a “period of consultation” with its staff and do “all [it] can to support them through this process”.

It stressed that Asda’s online prescription service, which launched with Pharmacy2U earlier this month, “offers convenient home delivery at no extra cost” and that it will continue to operate 246 pharmacies across the UK.

 

MP begs Asda to “reconsider” 

 

Asda’s comments come after Mann, conservative MP for North Cornwall, took to social media to criticise the planned closure.

Earlier this month (April 17), he said he had “deep concerns about plans to close the pharmacy” in an open letter to the supermarket published on X, formerly known as Twitter.

He added that the branch was “a vital asset” to the area and that “dozens” of constituents had contacted him to “voice their fears about the loss of the Asda pharmacy”.

He asked the chain to “reconsider any decision to shut the pharmacy” in the “strongest terms”.

 

Seven branches closed last year

 

Meanwhile, the supermarket confirmed plans to close seven in-store pharmacies in June.

At the time, an Asda spokesperson told C+D that branches in Southampton, Seaham, Feltham, Blackburn, Adel, West Bradford and Weston-Super-Mare would close in August.

They added that no other pharmacies had been identified for closure.

And in February, Asda admitted that link selling would be part of a Pharmacy First consultation at the supermarket “when appropriate”, after reports that it had denied encouraging this.

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