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Oxford pharmacy forced to close over COVID-19 financial pressures

The cession of the group’s travel clinics following COVID-19 contributed to the closure
The cession of the group’s travel clinics following COVID-19 contributed to the closure

Northway Pharmacy in Oxford will close its doors permanently in August after the COVID-19 pandemic led to a drop in income from services and a doubling of medicines deliveries.

Stuart Gale, owner and chief pharmacist of the three-branch Frosts Pharmacy group in Oxfordshire, said the Northway branch will be merged with the group’s larger Marston premises.

The closure comes after the group’s travel clinics were “mothballed” following the COVID-19 outbreak, which meant keeping both branches open was “no longer viable”, Mr Gale said last month (May 20).

The Frosts Pharmacy team is “absolutely devastated” at the closure of Northway Pharmacy, Mr Gale said. The group has warned of the unrealistic pressures on community pharmacy” for years, he added.

“We have seen demand for pharmacy services increase dramatically over the past few weeks, but sadly NHS prescriptions do not provide enough income to keep a pharmacy going without those other [travel clinic] services,” Mr Gale said.

The financial pressures have been compounded by staff working longer hours and making twice as many medicines deliveries as usual, he explained.

In March, sector bodies warned that the government’s £300 million “advance funding” gesture would not be enough to keep community pharmacy afloat and save pharmacies from closing as a result of the pandemic.

Mr Gale has written a blog for C+D about the “devastating” decision to close Northway Pharmacy.

Last month he warned that more significant government intervention would be needed to ensure community pharmacy maks it through the pandemic.

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