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‘Save Our Pharmacies’ protest: as it happened

Community pharmacists around England took part in the National Pharmacy Association’s (NPA) “day of action” by dimming their lights, wearing black, and spreading their message across the UK...

Community pharmacists around England took part in the National Pharmacy Association’s (NPA) “day of action” by dimming their lights and wearing black.

The NPA originally announced the protest on June 4 to highlight the “dark times for the beleaguered community pharmacy sector”.

C+D reporters took to the streets of London to see how community pharmacies participated in the NPA’s protest. 

Sheel Pharmacy on Lewisham Road has been open since 1981 and partook in the protest, in the hopes of highlighting that pharmacies are “not just a place for people to come and collect medication”.

Pharmacy staff dressed in black and displayed black “#SaveOurPharmacies” signage in their front window.

Maternity leave cover pharmacist Tulshi Patel said that people “don’t realise how much of an impact pharmacies have”.

Read more: #SaveOurPharmacies petition tops 100k as two-thirds slash opening hours

“We had a situation last Friday where we had an elderly patient come in completely confused”, Patel said. “Her daughter had gone on holiday for a couple of days. And I spent the weekend calling her to make sure and remind her that she was taking her tablets.”

Customers in Sheel Pharmacy were known to staff by name and greeted them as they entered.

Patel added that customers “feel like they’re part of your family”.


Read more: Pharmacies to ‘turn out the lights’ on June 20 in ‘emergency’ protest


One of Sheel Pharmacy’s biggest issues is grappling with medicine being unavailable or “completely out of budget”.

Sheel Pharmacy owner and second-generation pharmacist Ruchna Patel said that they’re focused on trying to “claw back a bit of that funding” and “get to a level where we can sustain ourselves”.

“If you're not getting the funding to support those people, that funding is coming from the business,” they said.

“Now the business isn't making as much and then you have to make some really difficult decisions.”

Pharmacy advice “worth its weight in gold”

Lewis Grove Pharmacy in Lewisham, which has been open for over 30 years, dimmed the lights between 9am and 11am and had black signage in its front window.

The staff also all wore black as part of the protest and encouraged customers to sign the NPA’s petition for government support.

Lewis Grove’s pharmacist manager Victor Truong said that their customers are “really loyal and enthusiastic” about their pharmacy” but added that “they're not really aware of the bigger, global picture”.

Read more: Welcome to the funeral for Community Pharmacy - almost

“They understand that the NHS is under pressure,” said Truong. “But they don't really understand that actually a lot of the funding for pharmacies is through the NHS.”

He continued that politicians haven’t been responsive enough to the situation, saying that “pharmacy is definitely the key to be able to expand frontline NHS services”.

Truong added that the reassurance that pharmacy professionals with years of university and patient experience can provide to customers is “worth its weight in gold”.

Truong hopes their participation in the “day of action” campaign will “raise that profile”, stating that the goal is to secure an ideal contract in 2025.

Read more: Pharmacy lights out protest: PDA warns against ‘dire consequences’

He said that the pharmacy’s shop floor sales have been “reducing” in light of decreasing renumeration for prescriptions over “the last four years”.

“Constantly” losing money on POMs

D H Roberts Pharmacy in Tufnell Park also participated in the protest, with pharmacist Kushnel Patel concerned that their services may be “compromised” by the need to reduce staffing.

“We obviously need to help the community, but with the way everything's going we're absorbing all the costs,” Patel said.

He added that “we lose 5p” on “each box” of one Prescription-Only-Medicine (POM), and that it’s “happening constantly” but they “can’t not dispense”.

Read more: PDA to launch own ‘campaign’ after June 20 pharmacy lights out protest

Pharmacist Roxy Gregory added that they’ve “got a lot of elderly communities that would struggle” should pharmacies close.

Shivo Chemist in Archway joined in on the protest after nearly forgetting to switch the lights off.

Pharmacist Nurul Nazam said that they’re “making a loss” while “also dealing with more services coming in”.

She added that they would “like to employ another person” in order to ease the workload but “wouldn't be able to cover the loss”. 

“I don’t feel that we are united”

Contractor at Amadi’s Chemist in Southwark Kenneth Amadi refrained from participating in the protest, saying “I’m not sure how well they work”.

Amadi said that he received the campaign’s promotional material from the NPA “without much explanation”, and that it would have helped if they received “direct communication from the NPA” outlining why pharmacies should partake in the campaign.

Amadi said that after receiving the promotional material, he “threw it away”.

He added: “As a profession, I don’t feel that we are united. If I felt convinced that something would be achieved, I would have displayed it.” 

Several independent pharmacies in the central London area were also unaware that a protest had been called by the NPA, and operated business as usual this morning.






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