The CEO in charge of Lloyds Pharmacy has hit at the NHS over the planned closure of a Northampton branch for "doubling" its rent costs.
Lloyds Pharmacy announced this morning (August 2) it would shut it its branch at the Weston Favell Health Centre on Oct 31.
CEO of McKesson UK - which controls Lloyds - Toby Anderson says he thinks the closure is "at odds with the NHS' ambitions" and has scolded NHS Properties Ltd for problems over rent charges.
He also claims the pharmacy has been operating "at a loss" for some time, and criticises the properties team for reportedly not working with them to agree on affordable rent.
The Chronicle and Echo has requested to see what fees the pharmaceutical company were being charged.
The closure means potentially thousands of patients who are registered at the GPs and surgeries of Weston Favell Health Centre will have to travel for their prescriptions.
Mr Anderson said: "We are very disappointed to announce that we are having to close the doors of our Lloyds Pharmacy in Weston Favell Health Centre.
"This decision has been made as a result of NHS Property Services doubling our rental price, despite us having shared evidence that even with the current deal we are operating at loss."
NHS Property Services is a government-owned company manages and owns more than 3,000 healthcare properties for the NHS across England. The company has been contacted for a comment on the claims.
Mr Anderson said: “We strongly believe that reducing access to an appointment-free, convenient healthcare service in the community – which unlocks capacity for GPs and enables patients with minor ailments to be seen immediately – is fundamentally at odds with the NHS’ ambitions to improve patient care.
"Indeed, it risks patients losing out directly as some over the counter treatments are no longer prescribed in GP practices, meaning some people will now have to travel to find the treatment they need.
“Unfortunately, this reflects a national trend, where the rising cost of property rental, combined with other cost pressures, means community pharmacies are increasingly forced to close their doors. Pharmacies often don’t get the same preferential rates that other healthcare professionals, like GPs and dentists do, which we believe doesn’t reflect the important role we play in helping communities to better manage their health.”
It comes after a report on July 31 shows McKesson European suffered a 53 per cent drop in profits in the three months leading up to June compared to last year, and has pointed to "funding cuts and low prescription volumes" as a cause.
Lloyds says it will be contacting customers to advise them how to transfer their prescriptions to other pharmacies.