June 30, 2022 8.42 am This story is over 16 months old

Save our Pharmacy! Locals and councillors urge Lincolnshire Co-op to rethink closure

Local residents attended the demonstration

Local city and district councillors will ask Lincolnshire Co-op to rethink plans to shut its Winning Post Pharmacy on Carholme Road, Lincoln.

A date for the closure later this summer has yet to be set, but Lincolnshire Co-op previously said the pharmacy, located within the petrol station, is dispensing less than 2,100 items per month, – far less than their average branches total of 9,900.

Concerned local resident Emile van der Zee launched a petition to save the pharmacy from closure, which now has over 300 signatures. He also organised a demonstration in front of the pharmacy on Wednesday evening, June 29, with local residents among those in attendance.

‘Save Our Pharmacy’. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Labour city councillor Neil Murray and Labour county councillor Rob Parker both attended the Carholme community forum on Tuesday night, June 28, where the issue was discussed.

It was agreed that they would contact Lincolnshire Co-op to ask them to rethink their plans to stop the closure, or to come up with a compromise such as a trial period or reduced opening hours.

Councillor Robert Parker, who is also Chair of the Carholme Community Forum, told The Lincolnite: “A number of people rely on the pharmacy. I know the numbers are not as high, but people still need it.

“I will be writing to them today (June 29) to ask them to reconsider. There could be a trial period with a lot of promotion to make it better known that the pharmacy is there, and at risk, to see if numbers go up. There needs to be better promotion of the facilities available.

“There is a lot of goodwill for Co-op in Lincolnshire and it is popular, an important message that they need to be reminded of.”

Local residents protested against the closure. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

City Councillor Neil Murray added: “I spoke to them (Lincolnshire Co-op) yesterday to try and understand what the problem is and our chair, Robert Parker, is going to ask them to have a rethink. If more members of the community use it, would they stop it from closing?

“We understand in the commercial sense it hasn’t been busy enough, but we’ve agreed as a forum to approach (Lincolnshire) Co-op to find a solution.

“It will be good if it can be kept open because obviously if you are not very well, you don’t want to be travelling too far away from home.”

| Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

A map showing which pharmacies can be reached within a ten minute walk. | Map: Jon Davies

The proposed closure of the pharmacy will not result in any job losses or redundancies, as employees will be transferred to other branches.

However, local resident and petition creator Emile van der Zee wanted to highlight the impact of the planned closure.

He put together a map showing which pharmacies can be reached within a ten minute walk, and how closing the Carholme Road facility would create a gap in the local provision.

He said: “Several more actions have been planned, but whether these go ahead depends on (Lincolnshire) Co-op.

“If they respond to the councillors and to me with a confirmation that the plans for closure will be withdrawn, I’m happy not to undertake any further actions. But I would be happy to work with them to see how they can better market the existence of the local pharmacy – something they have failed to do in the past five years.”

| Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Lincolnshire Co-op plans to close its Winning Post Pharmacy on Carholme Road. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

A Lincolnshire Co-op spokesperson said: “We have been trying to make this pharmacy successful for a number of years. When we moved our old West Parade Pharmacy to the outlet in Carholme Road in 2017 we invested significantly both in the service and marketing.

“The pharmacy had low numbers of prescriptions at the time and we hoped the relocation to a busy filling station would open up the service to more people.

“Sadly, it did not lead to making the pharmacy more sustainable. We have been subsidising the service for a number of years.

“Our average branch dispenses 9,900 items per month and our pharmacy in Carholme Road dispenses much less than this, 2,100 per month. These figures, the proximity to our pharmacies in Burton Road and Newland, as well as pressures on the community pharmacy network including funding, increases to wages and recruitment challenges for specialist colleagues, led to our decision to close the pharmacy this summer.

“There are options for our patients which include transferring their prescription to Newland or Burton Road pharmacies or our home delivery service, where patients order prescriptions in the usual way, and we aim to deliver within three working days of receipt from the GP surgery.”