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Supermarket pharmacies could undermine sector’s accessibility, warns Andy Burnham

Practice The shadow health secretary says the growth in out-of-town supermarket pharmacies is threatening the self-care agenda that relies on patients easily accessing their local pharmacy

The growth of supermarket pharmacies could undermine the sector's accessibility by putting their high-street counterparts out of business, Labour shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has warned.

Pharmacists had a vital role to play in self-care but this would only work if patients could easily access their local pharmacy as a "first port of call", he told an all-party pharmacy group meeting on the future of pharmacy last week (September 11).

"It's important to protect the community pharmacies people can walk to, otherwise it won't be an entirely accessible service" Andy Burnham, shadow health secretary, Labour

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"Pharmacies are gathering towards supermarkets and I do have a worry that there are a lot of people who can't get to a retail park," Mr Burnham said. "They [pharmacies] are shifting towards places where people can [only] get to with cars and I think it's important you protect the community pharmacies where people can walk to, otherwise it won't be an entirely accessible service."

The growth in supermarket pharmacies came mainly as a result of changes to the control of entry rules, made under the Labour government in 2005. The regulations almost guaranteed entry into the market for pharmacies that opened for 100 hours a week until the exemption was scrapped in July 2012.

In the year before the abolition the big four supermarket chains – Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons – together represented a quarter of the 100-hour pharmacy applications, a C+D investigation found.

Are supermarkets putting high-street pharmacies out of business in your area?

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Ranveer Bassey, Community pharmacist

An odd comment to make when you consider supermarkets accounted for fewer than 7% of pharmacies in 2010.

Uma Patel, Community pharmacist

I have more trust in a second hand car salesman than Andy Burman

Mike Hewitson, Superintendent Pharmacist

Vital that the community pharmacy network is protected. Pharmacy is one of the few providers to buck the inverse care law (i.e. services more likely to be located in areas where the population need them least), don't need internet and mail order, don't need more out of town contracts or those clustered in medical centres (surgeries by the way are less likely to be clustered in areas of deprivation than pharmacies).

True community pharmacies are part of the social fabric of the communities they serve, they provide much more than medicines. Its about time that pharmacies which form part of the vital infrastructure of local healthcare were recognised and rewarded for delivering high quality services.


I disgree....

the market should be opened and not protected...This isnt democratic..
how can services be improved if competition is stifled...
esp with a large pool of pharmacists
The population is getting older, denamd is increasing..

Mosahid Ali, Community pharmacist

Opening the market! Look at the poor pub and Indian restaurant business (where I grew up) has been destroyed by competition. Where and howl do you expect to provide services without the extra staff? Setting up services may be easy but if udont have the money to pay for staff to help you then we will lose out. come and work in a community pharmacy that has been wrecked by 3 nearby 100 supermarket pharmacies before you pass judgement.


It's what you call business.....People chose to have their scripts dispensed in the supermarkets...Why should your business be protected????
I have worked in some dirty independent pharmacies; holes in the carpet, holes in the ceiling, dirty shelves and much more....It's called competition......It's called democracy...
It beggars belief that contractors want immunity from competition...

Daniel Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Talhah, from reading several of your posts I can see you are utterly clueless.
Either you don't have a community pharmacy of your own, or you don't understand the difficult times we are going through at the moment.

Another Pharmacist, Hospital pharmacist

Talhah Ibraheem isn't on the GPHC register or on Company Check as a director of any company. Just saying.


You went to the trouble of looking me up....
and jeopadise my work...
I thought that's common sense...
Wake up...

Talhah, darling, perhaps as you earn so much you could take a day off from locuming to study some current affairs, manners, spelling, grammar, and effective use of capital letters?


Is that the best that one can muster up....
You must be desperate....
Reserve the "darling" for work... £19 per hour..sorry £19.50 :)

A Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

really! how abrasive ! surely you can reserve your energy and passion and put it back into pharmacy relations for everybody's betterment and profit. This is an article on pharmacy politics and it saddens me that we have such friction and frankly childish goading and irksome comments.

A Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

One must learn to respect the strength in diversity, for a community's true power lies not in its numbers, but in the diverse skills and resources of its members. Just as the stoutest walls are reinforced with many different materials, so the strongest groups allow differences to co-exist inside the whole. With a unified group solidly behind you, even difficult enterprises can be attempted without great risk. People moan because there is a reason, one must not be so short sighted to ignore it and shout down other people with an opinion,,, Pharmacists need unity and diplomacy not just passion alone. Only then can we protect the individual and the whole.


The world doesn't owe you a favour....neither does it owe me a favour
If you don't like the profession or you feel it's not viable financially, leave..
there are pharmacists who are willing to buy/open pharmcies and serve the public...
I am sick of people moaning about working conditions, Contractors are here to make money just like locums/employed pharmacists...
We can either continue to moan or get on with it...
The country is's borrowing £120 billion to balance the books
ppl are living longer.
The government knows cutting the pharmacy budget won't be an issue due to the high coentration of pharmacists willing to work for lower wages..
supply/damand..basic economics..

Mosahid Ali, Community pharmacist

your not even on the GPhC regsiter!


It's upto independents to stand up and provide excellent service to keep their client base.

Rajive Patel, Community pharmacist

It was Andy Burnhams administration that encouraged Supermarket led growth of pharmacies. How he can make this statement beggars belief.

The longer Labour are kept out of government, the better.

Mosahid Ali, Community pharmacist

These politicians are the ones that have ruined pharmacy in so many ways. I could go n for pages and pages. Category slashes/clawbacks/changes to the Drug Tarif, random inspections. How can we improve our business and services if we cant employ extra staff to provide 'services ' that could make us money....not really thses ervices wil provide jobs but nothing more. Us poor independants are in a lose - lose situation..we work hard and cant employ or afford to hire people to improve services..bring back rx only and fixed price OTC..not to mention these screwed up work place can we afford these pensions.....politicians are smug rich well off silver-spoon fed kids who dont live in the real world! Burnham and know the answer mateys!

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

He is a politician so hypocrisy is part of the job description. in this case i agree with what he says (not something that happens often) but as usual with politicians that isnt important - its what he does if he ever gets back to a position of power that counts and historically that has little to do with his pronouncements.

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