Pharmacy giant announces store closures

Seven of the borough's pharmacies could be at risk
Seven of the borough's pharmacies could be at risk

Staff at seven of the borough’s pharmacies could be at risk of losing their jobs as a nationwide company announces 190 store closures.

Chiefs at LloydsPharmacy yesterday revealed plans to close or “divest” stores across the country but have so far remained tight-lipped over which locations are for the chop.

Outlets at Mesnes Park Terrace, Standishgate, Scholes and Marus Bridge are all under threat in the Wigan area, as well as the Church Street and Market Street branches in Atherton and the Elliott Street store in Tyldesley.

Members of the community surrounding these Lloyds branches could be forced to go elsewhere for prescriptions should their closest store close.

Cormac Tobin, managing director at LloydsPharmacy owner Celesio UK, said the closures were in response to "the dramatic funding and reimbursement cuts over the past 24 months".

"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," he said.

"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."

A leaked internal memo to staff said that the business has been hit by pharmacy funding cuts, as well as business rates and the apprenticeship levy, which had made market conditions “challenging".

A spokeswoman Celesio UK did not confirm the number of staff that could be affected, saying some may be deployed to other locations.

Mr Cormac said the company would be taking steps to support staff and minimise disruption for patients.

Julie Cooper, Labour's shadow minister for community care, said: "This is a devastating blow for Lloyds Pharmacy staff and their patients right across the country.

"The Government is taking hundreds of millions pounds of support away from pharmacies, and now we see that it is patients who will pay the price."

Ms Cooper has urged ministers to outline plans to support "the hundreds of Lloyds pharmacy jobs that are now at risk" and explain what support will be put in place for patients reliant on their service.

"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," Ms Cooper added.

A Number 10 spokeswoman said there were measures in place to ensure people could access a pharmacy.

The spokeswoman said: "There are almost 12,000 private pharmacies in England and these closures today make up just 1.6% 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."