Celesio UK managing director Cormac Tobin said: “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.”
The stores to be closed have been identified, a Celesio statement confirmed, and were chosen partly based on the level of pharmacy provision in local areas, “with a view to mitigating the impact on patients as much as possible”.
The statement adds that the company “will take every opportunity to support a smooth transition to new contractors, where appropriate”.
Mr Tobin commented on the company’s plans for the future of the business, and for its future relationship with the NHS: “We look forward to working with the Department of Health and NHS England in the future to ensure that we can shape a new framework that allows us to invest, innovate and continually improve our business.”
He added: “With pressures in the economic and funding landscape, it is vital that we take a leading role in the evolution of community pharmacy, to ensure that our business is sustainable for the future. We firmly believe that community pharmacy is part of the solution to increasing capacity in other parts of the NHS.”
Mr Tobin said that while this is a “difficult day” for some LloydsPharmacy employees, it also serves as an “opportunity” to set the company’s future direction and to “build our reputation as a trusted partner of the NHS.”
“This is the beginning of a transformation for our business that will combine the accessibility of our physical pharmacies and their teams, the customer convenience of digital channels and harness the skills of our people to provide a broader range of healthcare in people’s homes, communities or wherever they need it.”
Sue Sharpe, chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, commented on the news: "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 cuts and services."