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Rowlands could cut opening hours for 75% of its pharmacies in England

Rowlands: "Impact on customers will be minimal"
Rowlands: "Impact on customers will be minimal"

Three quarters of Rowlands branches in England could reduce their opening hours to save costs, the multiple has announced.

Around 75% of Rowlands branches in England are open beyond core contractual hours, which usually equate to 40 hours a week, and “that is a cost we can no longer sustain”, the multiple said in a statement yesterday (March 2).

Under this proposal, Rowlands anticipates a “reduction of 10 hours per branch each working week”. These changes are currently being discussed with pharmacy branch teams, it added.

“We believe the impact on customers will be minimal and we will ensure they are informed well in advance, before opening hours change,” the multiple said.

A final decision is expected by the end of the month, it added.

“Funding austerity”

Rowlands said this proposal is a “direct consequence of the funding austerity facing [English] community pharmacy”.

“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,” the multiple said.

It urged the government to invest in community pharmacy in England, following its pledge to allocate £33.9 billion for the NHS in England by 2023/24.

Rowlands also said the government should “reverse” the decline within the sector, “which has seen hundreds of pharmacies close at a time when GP surgeries and A&E departments are struggling to cope with demand”.

The proposal to reduce pharmacy opening hours does not affect Rowlands’ pharmacies in Scotland and Wales, “where funding arrangements are more robust”, the multiple added.

In February 2019, Rowlands announced it had put 70 of its branches up for sale but a few months later, in July, it withdrew 12 of those branches from the market as it deemed them to be “more valuable” as part of its “exciting transformation plans”.

Rowlands managing director Mark Bather told C+D last year that the multiple would not close the 58 pharmacies it had put up for sale if it did not find a buyer.

What do you make of Rowlands's announcement?

locum norfolk, Locum pharmacist

I wonder if anyone is planning to legally test NHS englands resolve with implementation of 100 hour contract obligations paired with government pharmacy sector austerity creating a painful financial struggle for the operator.. i wrecken its not far off

Sam Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Back to the good old days of 9-5.30pm (closed 12.30-1.30pm for lunch) and 9-11.30am sat AM hitting the magic 40 number. Gets the work life balance in order.

Hang on, some of the wholesalers wouldn’t be delivering before we closed.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Stop all weekend openings. Mon - Fri -- 9.00 am to 6:00 pm. Lunch 1:00pm to 2:00 pm(coincides with most surgery openings) Perfect work life balance + no need to worry about paying higher rates to staff (including locums) for weekends. If people can't use the services during these hours then let them choose where they want to go (always short term and they will come back) As for Wholesalers -- tell them you are closed on Weekends and any orders placed on Friday evening should be delivered on Monday. If all Pharmacies (excluding online & 100hrs) implemented this plan, then the public will also be sensible with their medications and we can save a lot from these funding cuts.

Alexander The Great, Community pharmacist

The question is, can you possibly do all your work in your opening hours? Answer: NO.

Farmer Cyst, Community pharmacist

I don't bother doing much work anyway - that's why I'm a locum!

Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

A very sensible decision.  Running a pharmacy with 2 staff plus a pharmacist will cost in the region of £60 per hour including employers NI contributions, so this will save each branch about £30,000 per year. That is about how much the funding cuts have robbed each English pharmacy of in funding. All English standard hours contract pharmacies should follow suit and essentially work to rule at 40 hours per week. If the NHS wants pharmacies to open longer, then they will have to pay for it.

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

Unfortunately there will always be a greedy contractor who will try to open on weekends to grab the lost business. It hasn't been an even playing field for years

C A, Community pharmacist

I'm not sure those figures are right!

Including staff wages, employer national insurance and pension contributions (don't forget them!) for a Pharmcist and 2 Dispensers/2 Techs you are looking at £45 to £50 per hour. Failing that let me know where you work and I'll send you my CV.


Also not all branches will be open 50+ hours - and your figures ignore split shifts, where a colleague comes in early and finishes before closing and a colleague comes in later and closes.

The nearest Rowlands to me is only open 46.5hr, which means they can minimally change through the week unless the want to stop doing Saturdays.

Which leads me onto - you also need to assess the impact of reducing availability, if you aren't open when it's convenient to patients, they will just go to your competitors or online, which will reduce your turnover and profit while personel costs and static costs remain fairly high - which means you'll need to reduce costs even further!

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Yes, the typical throat slashing models beloved of community pharmacy. One pharmacy will look around and suddenly decide to do free deliveries and open 24 hours. They'll collect your scripts too and possibly wipe you b*m if asked...... 

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