One hundred and ninety Lloyds Pharmacy stores across England are set to close, placing hundreds of jobs at risk as it struggles with changes to government funding and rising costs.
In a leaked memo, which has since been verified by the company’s owner Celesio, staff were informed that pharmacy funding cuts, higher business rates and apprenticeship levy costs will see hundreds of stores cease to trade.
Although the number of coming redundancies was not specified in the memo, it is understood that each branch has an average of five staff, meaning the job losses could come close to 1000.
Lloyds Pharmacy trades from over 1500 locations across the country including many inside Sainsbury’s supermarkets, employing around 17,000 staff.
“Community pharmacy needs to adapt to the changing requirements of patients and the NHS, indeed it should be part of the solution to an overstretched health service,” Celesio UK managing director Cormac Tobin said in the memo.
“To achieve this, we need a new operational framework that creates a thriving pharmacy network that continues to offer essential integrated healthcare and is rooted in local communities.”
He added that the company would be taking steps to reduce disruption for patients and supports those being made redundant.
Community care shadow minister Julie Cooper said the government was “taking hundreds of millions of pounds of support away from pharmacies and now we see that it is patients who will pay the price”.
“The Tories are prioritising saving money over care. They cannot just expect elderly patients to get their prescriptions via an online service, without any support with their medication.”
A spokeswoman for No. 10 responded: “There are almost 12,000 private pharmacies in England and these closures make up just 1.6 per cent of the number.
“We don’t have full information on the announcement as yet, but we do make sure that patients can access pharmacists where they need to.”