Pupinder Ghatora – the owner of Woodlands Pharmacy in Oxford for 12 years – told C+D last week (November 3) that he made the decision to sell his business last year, “when the first real [funding] cuts hit”.
“I never in a million years thought I would sell my community pharmacy. I thought I would retire looking after my community there,” Mr Ghatora said.
“The feeling was: this is going to get worse,” he explained. “We were just about making ends meet – [the cuts] wiped out any [profit], so we were working just to pay bills.”
Mr Ghatora said despite starting a local campaign, which garnered support from “over 100 people”, he was “going home [from work] angry and upset”.
“I was worried about putting food on the table and looking after my patients,” he said.
“Before it was advertised, it was sold”
Despite the impact of the funding cuts, Mr Ghatora said finding a buyer for his business had been “straightforward”.
“Before it was advertised, it was sold,” he said. “The banks see pharmacy as a safe bet, so they are happy to lend.”
He explained that the buyer already owned three pharmacies so has “the muscle to absorb the cost”.
“He will probably make more profit than I did because he can spread the cost – more businesses can be an advantage if you can handle the stress.”
Mr Ghatora – who is also CEO of beauty product brand Ingenious Beauty – said the pharmacy's new owner took on the existing staff under employment regulations.
No response from former pharmacy minister
“The real frustration is everyone knows this is happening in community pharmacy,” he said. “All you read about is: 'You should become a healthy living pharmacy'.”
“I will be your mini-GP, but pay me for it and don’t take money away from me.”
Despite contacting previous pharmacy minister David Mowat twice, he never received a response, he told C+D.
Mr Ghatora added that he contacted his local MP Nicola Blackwood – who along with Mr Mowat, lost her seat in June – “10 times and got one response, saying because of her commitments she couldn’t get in touch”.
“If she can’t be bothered to come and see me, what hope is there for the profession?”