NHS Resolution to rule on Glastonbury pharmacy opening following objection

The arm's-length body will manage an appeal that has been lodged against a decision to open a new community pharmacy in Glastonbury, Somerset.
glastonbury high street

A Department of Health and Social Care arm’s-length body that resolves disputes in the NHS is to decide whether a pharmacy will be able to open in Glastonbury, Somerset, after the decision to do so was appealed.

The town, which has a population of nearly 8,300 people, lost two of its three pharmacies in 2023 after Boots in Glastonbury High Street closed on 13 December 2023, despite protests and an online petition with hundreds of signatures. This followed the closure of a Tesco pharmacy just a few months earlier.

An application for a new community pharmacy was submitted. Following a consultation period, the South West Pharmaceutical Services Regulatory Committee (SW PSRC) said it was satisfied that granting the application would be of “significant benefit to the local population by way of access to, or choice of, pharmaceutical services”.

An NHS Somerset report, published on 28 March 2024, described it as “a key milestone in securing [additional] pharmaceutical services in Glastonbury”.

However, an appeal was lodged against the decision. The appeal is now being managed by NHS Resolution, which helps resolve concerns and disputes.

A spokesperson for NHS Resolution confirmed to The Pharmaceutical Journal that an appeal had been received; however, they could not disclose who lodged the appeal or any further details.

The appeal will be considered on 17 June 2024, with the decision communicated to interested parties approximately four weeks later, before being made public in early August 2024. NHS Resolution’s decisions can only be set aside by the High Court.

It has not yet been made public which company would run the new pharmacy, or where it would be located. A local media outlet has reported that work is underway on the town high street’s former Four Seasons shop, which it said is expected to be the home of the new pharmacy.

The NHS Somerset report highlighted “the ongoing risk of pharmacy access in Glastonbury” and said its pharmacy commissioning team had been working with the remaining provider in the town, Well Pharmacy.

The report said the pharmacy had “faced an increased workload” since the closures and that NHS Somerset was supporting the pharmacy team to enhance capacity to meet additional demand.

A spokesperson for Well Pharmacy told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “We’re proud to be able to serve the Glastonbury community in what is a challenging time for community pharmacy. At Well Pharmacy, we are dedicated to providing high-quality healthcare services for the communities we serve. Since the closures of the other pharmacies in Glastonbury, we have indeed experienced an increase in demand for our services. 

“We are working closely with our field management to support our colleagues and deliver the level of patient care we aspire to. We understand the concerns raised by the community and we are continuously exploring ways to improve our efficiency and service delivery to meet the growing needs of our patients.”

Communities in the south west of England have been hit particularly hard by pharmacy closures, which residents fear will force patients to travel further for less personalised care.

A spokesperson for NHS Somerset Integrated Care Board (ICB), said: “The application was reviewed by the SW PSRC at its December 2023 meeting and decided it should be granted.

“That decision was shared with the relevant parties as required by The National Health Service (Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2013 as amended. A party with appeal rights exercised their rights and lodged an appeal against the ICB’s decision. Appeals are sent direct to NHS Resolution and not the ICB.

“If NHS Resolution decides the application should be granted, then the applicant will have to specify an address where they wish to open the pharmacy and the ICB will have to confirm that the address falls within the best estimate given. The ICB does not know what the outcome of the appeal will be.”

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, June 2024, Vol 312, No 7986;312(7986)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.318966

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