C+D’s analysis of government data has identified that 140 community pharmacies closed across England between November 2016 – the month before the 12% funding cut came into force – and May 2018.
Of the remaining 70, 39 were independents, 22 were owned by Boots, four by Rowlands, three by Cohens, and one each by Well and Day Lewis.
Cohens Chemist on 5 Kingsway, Manchester has closed (credit: Local Data Company)
View C+D’s interactive map below to see the location of each of the 140 pharmacy closures.
The revelation that 140 pharmacies closed their doors in 19 months marks a steep increase in the rate of closures in England. According to data from NHS Digital, an average of 40 pharmacies closed every year up to 2016.
C+D’s analysis revealed that the recent closures are concentrated in pockets across the country. A total of 31 pharmacies closed in the north west, including five in Liverpool and six in Manchester. In contrast, Sheffield – the sixth most-populated city in England – suffered no pharmacy closures.
Despite 1,854 pharmacies located in the capital in 2016-17, central London was left completely unscathed, while only a smattering of pharmacies closed in Greater London – in Ilford, Romford, Blackheath, Catford, South and Upper Norwood, Croydon, Ealing, Egham and Barnet.
Eleven pharmacies closed in the West Midlands – four in Birmingham, three in Coventry, two in Dudley and one each in Walsall and West Bromwich. A further 13 closed in West Yorkshire – four in Leeds, two in Bradford and one each in Halifax, Holmfirth, Clayton West, Normanton, Wakefield, Allerton Bywater and Keighley.
Five Lloydspharmacy branches closed in the Bristol area alone, while one independent, one Boots and one Lloydspharmacy all closed in Ipswich.
Five multiples closed in the Bournemouth and Dorset areas, while Leicester and Nottingham both lost two independent pharmacies each, in close proximity of each other.
“Business as usual” at Boots
Boots confirmed to C+D that it closed 22 branches in the wake of the funding cuts, which the multiple said is “usual practice with a business of our size”.
“We continually review our store locations to make sure they are where our customers and patients need us most,” Boots told C+D. “During the same period, we opened 18 brand new stores, relocated 21 and invested in hundreds of store renovation and improvement projects.”
Lloydspharmacy told C+D that 61 branch closures in the 18-months to April 2018 were part of its October 2017 announcement to cease trading in 190 “commercially unviable” pharmacies in England.
Managing director at the time Cormac Tobin was clear that this decision was a direct response to “changes to government policy on reimbursement and retrospective clawbacks over the past two years”.
Nine further Lloydspharmacy closures were not part of the 190 announcement, the multiple said.
Well and Rowlands confirm closures
Well stressed to C+D that closing a pharmacy is “an absolute last resort for us”. It confirmed that it had closed two branches identified by government data – in Heswall and Harold Wood Polyclinic, Romford – although the latter closed on September 30, 2016, two months before the cuts came into effect.
Rowlands told C+D that after a “thorough review, it was necessary to close” four branches in Warrington, Thatto Heath, Christchurch and Silsden.
Following the financial pressures brought on by the funding cuts, “it made sense…to close and merge pharmacies that were in close proximity to another Rowlands pharmacy without jeopardising patient care”, the chain explained.
“As pressure mounts on community pharmacy, we must continue to review our portfolio of branches and where possible consolidate to nearby branches,” it added.
To view the map in a new window, click here.