The multiple’s branch in Rodbourne Road, Swindon, is currently “under review” and “Rowlands is working closely with all parties involved to ensure the future care needs of the local and surrounding communities are carefully considered”, a spokesperson told C+D last week (February 2).
“Due to government pharmacy funding restrictions, we are continually reviewing our network of branches across England and consolidating where possible,” the spokesperson said.
This is to allow the multiple to “provide more patient services, which is what the pharmacy contract now requires”, they added.
C+D asked Rowlands whether more of its branches are at risk of closure, but the multiple did not wish to comment further at this stage.
Petition to save pharmacy
Jim Robbins, a Labour councillor with Swindon Borough Council, has launched a petition to keep the pharmacy open. The petition has been co-signed by fellow Labour councillors Kevin Small and Steph Exell.
According to the petition – which had collected nearly 700 signatures at the time of publication – a consultation was launched to transfer the services of the Rowlands branch in Rodbourne Road to another Rowlands pharmacy in Park Lane, a 10-minute walk away.
“We believe that this is a bad decision for Rodbourne residents, as the route for residents is narrow and not fully accessible and there is very limited parking available at Park Lane pharmacy,” the councillors wrote in the petition.
“The best outcome would be to keep both pharmacies open, supporting their local residents. We will be responding to the consultation to share residents’ views and want to use this petition to show the strength of feeling against the plan,” they added.
Rowlands told C+D in December that it had decided to halt the sale of 12 of its branches due to a “tough” market. The multiple had originally put the pharmacies up for sale in February 2019.
In November last year, Rowlands told C+D it had approached its landlords for a rent reduction and that “local crippling rentals” and the pharmacy funding austerity in England was pushing many pharmacies “to the point of closure”.
In February 2020, a C+D investigation found that Rowlands had closed nine of its pharmacies between May 2018 and October 2019.