Lloyds Pharmacy is to cease trading across around 190 of its stores in England, closing some and selling others.
Parent company and healthcare giant Celesio confirmed that it has been forced into the move because of NHS cuts to reimbursement policy and “increases in retrospective clawbacks”.
As well as selling mobility aids such as scooters, wheelchairs and powerchairs, Lloyds Pharmacy operates sister brand Betterlife Healthcare, which is both a retailer and wholesaler of mobility products, but it is unclear whether this part of the business will be affected by the closures.
A spokesperson for Celesio UK told AMP this morning that the group is not publishing the list of affected branches at this time and when asked if Betterlife stores will be affected she said: “We can’t say yes or no at the moment.”
The managing director of Celesio UK, Cormac Tobin, said that changes to government policy over the past two years have gradually made operations at many Lloyds Pharmacy stores commercially unviable. There are currently around 1,900 sites in the UK.
The healthcare group is looking to ensure a smooth transition to new contractors. As part of the process of identifying pharmacies for closure, the business looked at other community pharmacy provision in the area, with a view to mitigating the impact on patients as much as possible.
Mr Tobin commented: “With pressures in the economic and funding landscape it is vital that we take a leading role in the evolution of community pharmacy, to ensure that our business is sustainable for the future. We firmly believe that community pharmacy is part of the solution to increasing capacity in other parts of the NHS.
“We recognise pharmacy needs to adapt to changing societal trends and take advantage of the opportunities digitalisation offers patients. To achieve this we need a new operational framework that meets the future needs of patients by creating a thriving pharmacy network that continues to offer essential integrated healthcare that is rooted in local communities. Nonetheless we must respond to the dramatic reimbursement cuts over the past 24 months.
“Although this is a difficult day for some of our colleagues, this also presents an opportunity for us to set ourselves up for the future and build our reputation as a trusted partner of the NHS. This is the beginning of a transformation for our business that will combine the accessibility of our physical pharmacies and their teams, the customer convenience of digital channels and harness the skills of our people to provide a broader range of healthcare in people’s homes, communities or wherever they need it.”
The announcement comes just two weeks after another major healthcare firm, Simplyhealth, exited the mobility retail space closing its 10 stores and ceasing its brand, The Unlimited Company.