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Simon Dukes: 200 community pharmacies have closed during pandemic

NHSE&I and DH reluctant to fund sector sustainably, PSNC chief Simon Dukes claimed
NHSE&I and DH reluctant to fund sector sustainably, PSNC chief Simon Dukes claimed

More than 200 pharmacies in England closed last year, which PSNC chief Simon Dukes has branded "nonsensical in the midst of a pandemic”.

“Were it not for the stoicism of community pharmacy contractors and the dedication and commitment of their teams to patients, I believe we would have seen even more pharmacies close their doors for good, leaving those patients without the support they desperately need,” Mr Dukes said in a video message to contractors published on the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee's (PSNC) website yesterday (January 18).

A PSNC spokesperson told C+D today (January 19) that the negotiator estimates that the net number of pharmacy closures was 201 in the 12 months to October 2020, based on NHS Digital’s e-dispensary quarterly released figures.

Lloydspharmacy announced last year (November 19) that it had closed 99 community pharmacies in the preceding 12 months.

Reluctance to acknowledge the sector

Calls from the press, the public and politicians to get pharmacies involved in the COVID-19 vaccination programme have acknowledged pharmacy’s central role in the nation’s health, Mr Dukes said.

“It’s to the credit of community pharmacy contractors that they want to get involved in that programme despite all the other challenges that they’re facing,” he added.

For this reason, he said it was “interesting” that the sector’s enthusiasm was met with “initial reluctance” from NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) to commission a pharmacy COVID-19 vaccination service.

“I believe that wider reluctance on behalf of NHSE&I and government is simply because of the reluctance to acknowledge the importance of the sector in the nation’s health and therefore by implication the importance of having to fund that sector sustainably,” Mr Dukes said.

“So, let’s see the thanks of the public, the warm words of politicians turned into tangible financial support from the government and from NHS England. No more warm words without policy backup. No more delaying on key decisions and no more failure to support community pharmacy as the key part of the nation’s health that it is.”

An NHSE&I spokesperson clarified yesterday that pharmacies taking part in the vaccination programme need to be able to offer all approved vaccines from their premises.

C+D has approached the Department of Health and Social Care for comment.

Six pharmacies started offering COVID-19 vaccinations in England last week, with more than 200 expected to go live with the vaccinations by the end of the month.

C+D asked NHSE&I to comment on Mr Dukes’ remarks on the national commissioner’s initial reluctance to commission community pharmacy. An NHSE&I spokesperson said NHSE&I’s position was made clear in a press release published last week, where it celebrated the 200 pharmacies that would begin offering vaccines in the near future.

However, the majority of pharmacies in England are not able to apply to offer COVID-19 vaccines due to NHSE&I’s requirements, including the ability to vaccinate 1,000 patients per week. Other pharmacies that were able to meet the requirements have told C+D they were rejected as vaccine sites by NHSE&I.

Have you heard of a pharmacy near you closing in 2020?

Axed Locum, Locum pharmacist

A mere 1.73 %, as a business, pales nto insignificance, compared to other countless businesses that have closed for good. With an exception of a few, the majority were simply has weathered the pandemic storm and continues to do so. Thanks to the generous DOH.

Read todays article from a pharmacy sales broker, who reported an increase in demand for Pharmacies, as there is still a lot of profit to rake in.


sunil maini, Community pharmacist

So bitter again.Get another job

sunil maini, Community pharmacist

Mr Dukes,

                I am finding it hard to temper my language.This is under your watch.How long have we been waiting for your negoatiations to raech a satisfactory conclusion?Six months?nine months?And under your watch,if the advance payment is not written off,the 200 closures will be merely the tip of the iceberg.As I have asked previously,how do you sleep at night?I think I now know-you do not look at blogs such as this,unless it is blowing your own trumpet.You,and the PSNC,are not fit for purpose.


A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

I suspect the majority were multiples 

Mark Boland, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Pharmacists who constantly boast about the services they offer for free, who then complain that they are not paid for them?

Pharmacists who bend over backwards to wipe the backsides of patients, who then complain that they are taken for granted?

Pharmacists who surrendered the dispensing role for phoney 'clinical' services, who then complain that reduced dispensing payments do not cover their costs?

Pharmacists who arrogantly proclaimed a new clinical future and who so arrogantly dismissed others as label sticking luddites, now strangely silent?

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

A very good summary of where we are at right now, in community pharmacy 2021.

Interleukin -2, Community pharmacist

....and exactly how we landed here. Aptly and succintly put!

Sunil Patel, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

Mr Dukes all well you coming out saying this but my question to you is what have you done about it? Since you took office we have a disastrous five year deal CPCF, our Covid costs unpaid, the £350 million loan has not be written off and the list of under achievements goes on. I wonder would this be tolerated in any other sector? 

Meera Sharma, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

True. It seems as a sector we rather go down than hold these overpaid underperforming leaders to account. All this talk but what have you as leader of  PSNC done about it other than complaining and moaning to contractors. 


Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

We have lost 8 pharmacies in Sheffield over the past 12-18 months. It doesn't matter how busy pharmacies are if their overheads are too high. Lloyd's closed a branch in a shopping centre that was dispensing over 15000 items per month.

Eddy Lau, Superintendent Pharmacist

Well, when the surgeries up and down the country were closed to public who stay open and welcome the patients? We are just being forgotten the moment it gets better.

Paul Dishman, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Lloyds closed a branch in Magdalen Rd, Exeter that had been dispensing over 6000 prescriptions per month.

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