A chemists in Sheffield has become the latest victim of what it called an ‘unprecedented attack’ on pharmacies, after being forced to cut its hours.
Green Cross Chemists has announced its Crosspool branch on Sandygate Road will close at 1pm on Saturdays from Monday, March 4.
The company, which has been operating since 1984 and describes itself as the largest Sheffield-based chain of independent pharmacies, has already closed its Bradway branch and reduced opening times at its Ranmoor one.
It blamed a combination of Government funding cuts and so-called ‘clawback’, which is where the NHS reduces the amount pharmacies are reimbursed for issuing certain drugs in an attempt to reclaim what health bosses believe are historic overpayments.
A poster advertising the new times at Crosspool Pharmacy, states: “Due to an unprecedented and well publicised continued attack on the financial viability of community pharmacies in England, during which we have seen our NHS profitability at Crosspool Pharmacy fall by over 15 per cent in almost 24 months, we find ourselves unable to maintain all the services that we have carefully developed over the years. This causes us great sadness.”
The poster goes on to thank patients and customers for their ‘support and kindness over many years’, and urges those who ‘feel aggrieved about or are affected by this sad decision’ to make their feelings known to NHS England or to their MP Jared O’Mara.
The Star recently reported how pharmacies in Sheffield are at a ‘tipping point’ - according to Community Pharmacy Sheffield (CPS), which represents them - after the third closure in less than a year was announced.
Sheffield Council estimates that up to a quarter of the city’s pharmacies are at risk of closing over the next few years, and claims any further closures would hit the most deprived, elderly and long-term sick the hardest.
Andrew Duckenfield, director of Green Cross Chemists, claimed community pharmacies could go the same way as Post Offices, with extensive closures, if funding is not improved.
“I’ve been doing this for 35 years and I’ve never known things to be so hard,” he said.
“We’ve been saying for a while that under-funding pharmacies would lead to closures and shorter hours, and it’s really beginning to bite now.
“I think the Government has an implicit agenda to drive the dispensing function to the internet, even though this won’t suit many patients, especially the older generation.
“At the same time, it’s directing more people to pharmacies for minor ailments, to take the pressure off GPs and hospitals.”
Mr Duckenfield added that he had no plans at this stage to close or reduce the hours of any other pharmacies.