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Simon Dukes: Coronavirus may lead to permanent pharmacy closures

Mr Dukes said underfunding means there is a danger of permanent pharmacy closures
Mr Dukes said underfunding means there is a danger of permanent pharmacy closures

Financial pressures caused by COVID-19 may cause pharmacies to close permanently unless the government provides a funding boost, PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes has said.

The coronavirus outbreak could mean that pharmacies closing due to staff sickness “may not open again”, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) chief executive said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning (March 16).

Mr Dukes said “underfunding for five, six years” means there is a “real danger that some of these [pharmacies] are going to go under”.

He added that if medicines need to be delivered to patients during the outbreak, “we need to see government funding”.

“There is no NHS delivery service. If you have your medicines delivered it's either because you pay for it, as the patient, or the pharmacy is doing it for free,” he said.

The “massive demand” at the moment, including a “300-400% increase in demand” for ibuprofen and paracetamol has also had an impact on staff, who need to source the medicines and “get them on the shelves”, Mr Dukes added.

Pharmacies “on their knees financially”

He added, however, that the issue of insufficient funding “is more fundamental”.

Many community pharmacies were “on their knees financially”, even before the outbreak, and are now “teetering on the brink of collapse”, Mr Dukes added in a complementary statement released today by PSNC.

He explained that he is “genuinely concerned” that pharmacies forced to close due to coronavirus “will not have the funds” to re-open and the network will be reduced “just at the time when [it is] needed most”.

Last week (March 12), C+D published an exclusive investigation that revealed 142 community pharmacies closed between May 2018 and October 2019.

Mr Dukes called for “urgent investment now”, and pointed towards the increase in patient enquiries, requests for medicines delivery, price rises for common medicines and staff sickness due to the virus.

How has coronavirus impacted your pharmacy?

janet maynard, Community pharmacist

Patients being sent to the pharmacy as the surgery don't want to put their staff at risk! Obviously we don't count!!! Wasn't medicine supposed to be a caring profession?


Naveen Khosla, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Surely a time for PSNC to show us why the exist. No more talk let's see a funding solution which has evaded our lives for so many years. They seem to have gone quite as far as I am concerned

wasim ahmed,


Cash flows are completely devestating pharmacies. We need to post and shout out on all social media networks.

I'm running series of LinkedIn lives for anyone who wants to come on. Welcome to contact me.

Philip Wilkinson, Community pharmacist

Kevin, you have summed up the situation. Goodwill has gone. Where is the PSNC ?

David Kent, Community pharmacist

Where it always is.  Going through the motions and achieving nothing.

Stephen Kane, Community pharmacist

In my area all GP surgeries are now in lock down. Face to face consultations only when essential. Everything else via the local Pharmacy. Our staff and ourselves are at Healthrisk. The workload dealing with enquiries has massively increased. The mental stress being placed on myself and my staff is unacceptable. We are being approached by NHS organisations to deliver for no charge to self isolating Patients. And the bottom line is, if we have to close through illness, as Simon says, we will probably not have the financial resources to re open. The staff are worried sick about losing their jobs, and I am worried about losing my job, business and investment.

We urgently need support from the DOH, if it doesn't come this week, we should all accept the inevitable and close. We would, at least, be protecting the health of ourselves and our staff.


Z Rafiq, Community pharmacist

I agree with your comments, yesterday I had at least 3 separate people who were coughing and spluttering approaching the counter and then deciding to tell us that members of their immediate family had been isolated. As things stand people can't go to their surgeries as around the area gps have contacted us to say don't refer anyone to us. So it's a case of let's go to the chemist because where else can we go. We do need urgent support from the government.

Meera Sharma, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

Really difficult times for pharmacy. Working flat out, exhausted. Big issues with medicines shortages and making losses, just look at the price of paracetamol. Having sleepless nights thinking about the finances and also the safety and wellbeing  of staff. 

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

I heard Simon on the radio. He spoke very eloquently. Now we need results. Every independent pharmacy should receive a month's worth of NHSBSA payment to cover the costs of running during this manic time! 


PARESH shah, Community pharmacist

This is the time to stop talking among ourselves which nobody is listening to but get out there shout about your true worth with your clients, patients and the media at every opportunity. Let them know in no uncertain terms that we are taking the brunt of this situation, not the doctors and nurses.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

Once again this demonstrates the NHs' true attitude to Community Pharmacy. "unlimited spending on the NHS to deal with this" - he obviously forgot to exclude Pharmacy in his speech but by now we should assume it. lets close for a month and let them get on with it

David Kent, Community pharmacist

Don't you mean include!

Industry Pharmacist, Head/Senior Manager

The writing was on the wall even way before I qualified in 2008. Amazon will takeover, and it will be the end for companies including the likes of Boots.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

Good on him!

Ex Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

My friends. I fear this is the way forward. I feel the government is almost pushing and backing the idea of these online pharmacies to take over the dispensary role. It is looking like many retail pharmacy companies will shut down in the next 10 years. When Amazon start up their pharmacy business (perhaps with pharmacy2u) I think that will be the end of the pharmacy shop as we know it. Brace yourselves. It's about to get bumpy.

mohamed nanji, Community pharmacist

100% RIGHT - NOT BUMPY BUT catastrophic

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

Silly, silly PM - unlimited funding is for doctors, of course.

P M, Community pharmacist

tip of the ice berg... how about staffing ... and emergency rates for locums ? all pharmcies need a funding boost ... the gov said money will be no issue, well put your money where your gob is at.

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