Community pharmacies should have their business rate tax reimbursed by the NHS in the same way as GP practices and dental surgeries, the head of a high street pharmacy chain has said.
In a statement published on 13 August 2019, Toby Anderson, chief executive of McKesson UK, which owns LloydsPharmacy, said the business rates currently charged to pharmacies “do not reflect the critical role we play in the communities we serve”.
“Unlike other NHS providers, such as GP practices or dental surgeries, which have their business rate tax reimbursed by the NHS, pharmacy is still inexplicably charged the full amount,” he said.
“We believe that this is fundamentally at odds with the ‘NHS Long Term Plan’, [which] relies on pharmacies stepping up and becoming a more integrated partner.”
For pharmacy to become more integrated with the rest of the NHS, “we need the government to untie our hands”, Anderson said.
He added that the inequity around how business tax rates are reimbursed “is compounding the financial pressure already being faced by our sector”.
“With changes to funding and increasing operational costs, the ability to invest and grow our business is becoming more challenging. We are imploring the government to make sure pharmacy has access to the same conditions that other healthcare professionals, like GPs and dentists, have.”
Anderson’s comments follow a plea made by more than 50 major UK retailers, including Marks and Spencer and Iceland, on 12 August 2019 for the government to reform the current business rates system in order to safeguard the future of the UK high street.