Analysis of Department of Health and Social Care (DH) and NHS Digital data has identified that at least 142 bricks-and-mortar community pharmacies closed across England between May 2018 and October 2019.
The investigation also revealed the location of each of the premises, which can be viewed on C+D’s interactive map below.
Bismillah Pharmacy in Birmingham before it closed. Credit: © 2020 Google, image capture: October 2013
Of the 142 identified as closing between May 2018 and October 2019, 99 were owned by multiples, while 43 were independents.
Of the multiples, Lloydspharmacy branches accounted for 51 closures, 26 were owned by Boots, nine by Rowlands, seven by Day Lewis, three by Cohens, two by Well and one by Jhoots.
Jhoots Pharmacy in Smethwick is one of the pharmacies that closed. Credit: © 2020 Google, image capture: May 2019
CCA: Funding “cannot sustain network”
More than half of closures since May 2018 have been pharmacies owned by CCA members.
Commenting on this, CCA chief executive Malcolm Harrison (pictured below) said the level of funding available to community pharmacy “cannot sustain the current scale of the network”.
“We need to find a way to allow the network to restructure to reflect funding levels,” he added.
Mr Harrison said the CCA is calling for NHS England to “work with the sector” to prevent the “gradual erosion of quality and safety of care for patients as funding is continually squeezed”.
CCA chief Malcolm Harrison: Funding can't sustain current numbers
Boots: 28 of 200 store closures confirmed
Boots UK’s parent company Walgreen Boots Alliance confirmed earlier this year (January 9) that it had completed 28 of the 200 planned store closures that were announced in June 2019.
The multiple said it currently has “no further details to share”, and did not comment on the 26 locations identified by C+D. The remaining two branches confirmed by Boots as having closed may have closed after October 2019, or not been located in England, and therefore were not included in this investigation.
Lloyds: “Increasing financial pressures”
Commenting on the most recent 51 branch closures, mapped below, a spokesperson for Lloydspharmacy said “good business practice” requires the company to “regularly review” its estate and make “appropriate commercial decisions including buying and selling pharmacies”.
Lloydspharmacy “may decide to close a pharmacy” rather than put “patient safety and colleague wellbeing” at risk if a store is not profitable, it added.
The company cited “increasing financial pressures”, including business rates and changes to pharmacy funding, as contributing to the decision to close branches.
Well: Transferring patients
Well has said it closed the two pharmacy branches in 2018 for reasons including “the current and future profitability of each individual pharmacy, the location of our nearby pharmacies and the local marketplace”.
The company also “considers the funding reductions across the whole of the pharmacy industry”, it added.
When a branch closes, the multiple says it works with patients to “transfer them to another local Well pharmacy, introduce them [to its] digital service if appropriate or discuss other options, including moving to a competitor”.
Rowlands: Funding pressures to blame
Rowlands has put three of its closures down to the funding cuts, which it said rendered the businesses “unsustainable”.
The other six were the result of a “merge and close”, where the pharmacies were merged with nearby branches, it added.
NPA CEO Marck Lyonette: Government must invest in pharmacy
NPA: Government must “direct money” into sector
The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) blames “rising costs and cuts to funding” for the wave of independent pharmacies closing.
“Many independent pharmacies are running on empty and unable to keep their doors open,” NPA CEO Mark Lyonette (pictured above) told C+D in January.
He said the government “must be prepared to direct more money into community pharmacy” to avoid uncontrolled closures and support new services.
Increased funding for community pharmacies can release pressure on NHS resources and “would be a wise investment”, Mr Lyonette added.