Community pharmacies in areas where LloydsPharmacy branches have closed in Sainsbury’s supermarkets “may simply not be able to cope” with the subsequent increased workload, Community Pharmacy England’s chief executive has warned.
Following the closure of all 237 of LloydsPharmacy’s branches in Sainsbury’s supermarkets on 13 June 2023, Janet Morrison said the situation was “deeply worrying”.
“It is one of the clearest signals yet of just how much community pharmacies are struggling to make ends meet,” she said in a statement.
“Funding for community pharmacies being cut by 30% over the past seven years in real terms, combined with escalating costs, has led to more extreme pressures on pharmacies than ever before”, Morrison added.
“We know that many are at breaking point and this needs to be remedied immediately to protect access to pharmacy services. Other pharmacies locally will be braced for even more pressures as they try to cope with the increased demand and extra patients — but in their current fragile state, some pharmacies may simply not be able to cope with this — [and] other local health services may also see an increase in demand for help.”
In January 2023, LloydsPharmacy announced plans to withdraw pharmacy services from the Sainsbury’s supermarket chain.
At the time, the multiple said it was unclear whether the outlets will be sold or closed, but that it was “currently exploring options for each individual branch” and that the “timeline and final plans will vary on a branch-by-branch basis”.
However, in a statement to The Pharmaceutical Journal on 14 June 2023, LloydsPharmacy confirmed that all of its Sainsbury’s branches have now closed.
The pharmacy chain added that it was not considering nationwide branch closures of its other pharmacy stores.
Following the closures, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA), which represents pharmacists working for LloydsPharmacy, warned that as many as 400 pharmacist jobs could be at risk.
Paul Day, director of the PDA, said: “We know there were approximately 400 pharmacists, and possibly about five times as many non-pharmacists, in the Sainsbury’s stores when the original [closure] announcement was made.”
Day added that unless they have secured an alternative role at LloydsPharmacy by filling an existing vacancy, they could soon be made redundant, although he stressed that “exactly how many pharmacists end up redundant remains to be seen”.
“Once any reasonable ‘close down’ tasks in the closing branch are completed they may either be temporarily helping at a nearby Lloydspharmacy if there is one and that is reasonable, or be at home on ‘garden leave’, until their notice period expires.
“It is technically only at the end of their final day of their notice that an employee is redundant.”
A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s told The Pharmaceutical Journal on 14 June 2023 that the supermarket has “been working with [LloydsPharmacy] to ensure customers are clear on how they can access an alternative pharmacy provision to meet their needs”.
“We are currently finalising how the space vacated by LloydsPharmacy will be used on a permanent basis and this will vary by store.”