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A Resized Pharmacy Image cbOctober 27 2017

LloydsPharmacy has said NHS funding cuts are behind its decision to stop trading from around 190 stores in England. It will decrease its pharmacy numbers through closure and divestment, and is already understood to be in talks with interested buyers.

In a statement on October 26, parent company Celesio UK said: “This action is a result of recent Department of Health and NHS England cuts to reimbursement policy and increases in retrospective clawbacks.”

Cormac Tobin, managing director, Celesio UK, commented: “Changes to government policy on reimbursement and retrospective clawbacks over the past two years have gradually made operations at many LloydsPharmacy stores commercially unviable. We will be doing all that we can to support our affected colleagues and minimise disruption for patients.”

Currently, Lloydspharmacy has nearly 1,900 pharmacies in the UK, and dispenses 160 million items a year. The company has said that it will work to make sure there is “a smooth transition to new contractors, where appropriate, and to ensure an uninterrupted service for its customers.” The company will be reviewing existing local community pharmacy provision to identify pharmacies for closure “with a view to mitigating the impact on patients as much as possible.”

PSNC has issued a statement on the LloydsPharmacy closures. PSNC Chief Executive Sue Sharpe said: “Community pharmacy is facing severe financial pressures following the imposition of funding cuts last year and margin reductions in the summer. In these circumstances large businesses such as LloydsPharmacy can undertake comprehensive analyses of their pharmacies’ viability. This decision to make large scale closures indicates the very grave impact that the imposed funding cuts are having now.

“PSNC has been warning of the very real threat to pharmacy services and met the Minister, Steve Brine, on Monday 23 October. We highlighted to him the severity of the funding position and the precarious position which many pharmacies find themselves in; and we discussed the need to understand and protect the vital services to patients that community pharmacies provide.

“We hope this news will persuade the Minister of the need to take urgent action to restructure funding and services.”

Mr Tobin has also urged the Government to improve leadership across healthcare and to develop a new framework for healthcare provision. “The economic reimbursement model has encouraged this culture of unconscious competition between healthcare sectors,” he said.

“You only have to look at the large pockets of reluctance among GPs to recommend community pharmacies as a flu vaccination provider to see that there is an issue. It stems from singularity of thought – we have all been working in silo for too long.”

He is calling on the Health Secretary to install a healthcare coalition. “We need an alliance of representatives from across the world of healthcare to provide a 360 degree view of our challenges and transform the way we tackle them,” he said.

“For the sake of our patients, we must find a way to engage better with leadership groups from across healthcare to transform the way we all deliver care. As soon as we build up barriers, and cut each other out, we start to fail the people that matter, our patients.”

Links:
Celesio UK statement
Cormac Tobin’s statement on healthcare leadership        
PSNC comment                 

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