MEMBERS of the community have expressed their alarm and dismay at Lloyds Pharmacy’s decision to close its outlet in Sainsbury’s on Penn Inn Roundabout this summer.
The closure is part of a wider decision to close all 237 of its stores in Sainsbury’s supermarkets, affecting an estimated 2,000 jobs.
Jenny Coleridge, of Forde Park, uses the pharmacy regularly. At 68, Jenny was not particularly familiar with pharmacies several years ago, but recent medical issues have since made them indispensable.
‘I went from working and being quite fit and healthy to being pretty ill and classed as disabled,’ said Jenny. ‘I really saw the extremes, from not thinking about a chemist whatsoever, to relying on one.’
Living near Forde Park, the Lloyds Pharmacy soon became a vital part of Jenny’s life, and throughout the pandemic and the recent NHS crisis, it was often the first port of call for her and many of her neighbours. Jenny said: ‘With Covid and the way that things have gone, I think you’d find that more people would initially ask a pharmacist, rather than phone up a doctor’s surgery and wait for an appointment. They’ve taken up all that slack.
‘They’ve become my first point of call, medically, as they have for many people.’
However, the recent closure announcement has left Jenny struggling for options. With mobility issues hampering her ability to get into town and delivery services being infrequent, unreliable and difficult to adapt to, Jenny has found that the rug has been pulled from beneath her feet.
‘Wherever I go, I have the opportunity of passing Sainsbury’s, so I didn’t have to worry about picking up my medication. Now, it’s just stress. Every month I have to think about what day my prescriptions are due, when are my tablets running out and how I can pick them up.’
While the chief executive officer, Kevin Birch cited ‘changing market conditions’ as a reason for the closures, Jenny pointed out that her experience would be echoed across the nation. ‘Think about the catchment areas that are served by these pharmacies, there’ll be thousands of people that this will affect. This is countrywide, think about that impact.’
Kevin Birch added: ‘This decision has not been an easy one and we understand that our patients and customers may have questions about how the change will affect them.
‘We would like to thank them for their continued support and assure them that we are committed to providing a smooth transition over the coming months.’