Three-quarters of Rowlands pharmacies could cut opening hours under money-saving proposals

Pheonix Medical Supplies, the parent company of Rowlands Pharmacy, has announced plans to cut back on opening hours by ten hours per branch each week.

Rowlands pharmacy

Rowlands Pharmacy has proposed cutting back on the number of hours its pharmacies are open for in an effort to cut costs.

In an announcement made on 2 March 2020, Rowlands Pharmacy’s parent company, Phoenix Medical Supplies, said that 75% of its pharmacies are currently open for longer than the 40 hours that are contractually required per week, which, it added, was a cost the company “can no longer sustain”.

As a result, it said the company was consulting with branch staff over plans to cut back on opening hours by ten hours per branch each week, with a final decision expected by the end of March 2020.

The statement said that the changes were “a direct consequence of the funding austerity facing community pharmacy in England, which has made the network economically unsustainable”.

“Government funding for community pharmacy in England has been capped over the next five years which, in real terms, taking account of rising costs and inflation, means a reduction in funding,” it added.

In July 2019, the government and pharmacy negotiators announced in the community pharmacy contractual framework for 2019/2020 to 2023/2024 that funding would be capped at £2.59bn per year for the next five years.

A spokesperson for Rowlands Pharmacy would not confirm to The Pharmaceutical Journal how much the company hopes to save by reducing opening hours, but said it expects the impact on customers to be “minimal”.

“Rowlands reiterates that, with a pledge of £34bn in new funding for the NHS, now is the time for the government to invest in community pharmacy and reverse the decline in the network which has seen hundreds of pharmacies close at a time when GP surgeries and A&E departments are struggling to cope with demand,” the statement said.

In February 2019, the company announced plans to sell 70 of its pharmacies in order to “invest in the future”.

The announcement from Rowlands Pharmacy on cutting back hours comes on the same day that Boots announced that it would be selling 44 pharmacies as part of its ongoing plans to divest of 200 stores by 2021.

Boots announced plans to close 200 stores in June 2019 due to “difficult market conditions in the UK”, with 28 of these having closed as of 8 January 2020.

The 44 Boots pharmacies will be sold via specialist business property advisers by May 2020 as going concerns and will include all stock, fixtures and fittings.

Tony Evans, head of pharmacy at Christie & Co., said the dispensing volumes of the pharmacies for sale range from 1,100 to more than 9,000 items per month and “occupy either community, high street or health centre environments”.

Tracey Clements, chief operating officer at Boots, said: “The decision to sell or close a pharmacy is never easy, but we are continuing to invest in our wider store network by making our retail, pharmacy and online offer even more differentiated and personalised, with the best brands at the best value.”

She added that Boots is supporting pharmacy staff in the affected stores “and are keeping them fully updated on the potential sale of their store”.

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, March 2020, Vol 304, No 7935;304(7935):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2020.20207774