Multiples have added their voice to concerns over 100-hour applications, after experiencing pressure on their pharmacies caused by rivals taking advantage of the exemption, including GP surgeries.
GPs are forcing pharmacy contractors into a corner by making them choose between relocating to their surgery or facing stiff competition from a new 100-hour pharmacy, industry experts have warned, with the Co-operative Pharmacy criticising the contracts for "distorting the market".
John Nuttall: half of Co-operative Pharmacy's estate has faced 100-hour applications
Co-operative Pharmacy managing director John Nuttall said that, because the company had prime locations throughout the UK, "about half of our estate has seen nearby applications for new 100-hour pharmacies by competitors".
Lloydspharmacy also voiced concern, saying that every GP location of a certain size is now seen as an opportunity by pharmacy, GPs and their agents.
"Unfortunately the opening of the market has increased the perceived value of these locations to an unrealistic level. This coupled with the fact that lenders still view healthcare as one of the safer investments at present, has helped to drive those expectations," said a Lloydspharmacy spokesperson.
"Some agents help to fuel GPs' expectations of the value of their sites and this has led to quite a number of cases of GPs opening up the tendering process to 100 hour operators to achieve the highest value, or proposing to open their own pharmacy," they explained.
"In the majority of cases we manage these dynamics equitably but it can lead to situations where the alternatives are made quite clear. In our view the quicker this facility is removed and stability returned, the better," they added.
Other experts said they had seen "a number of cases" of GPs approaching local pharmacies and giving them an ultimatum, saying they must move to their premises or face competition from a 100-hour pharmacy at the surgery.
Should pharmacists decide to relocate to the surgery, Tim Jenkins, partner at pharmacy law specialists Charles Russell LLP, said he knew of cases where the GP "asks for a hefty rent or says, ‘you had better give me a slice of your pharmacy',".
The concerns follow the Independent Pharmacy Federation's warning about GPs threatening to exploit the 100-hour exemption rule, to the detriment of nearby pharmacies.
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