Councillor Kevin Small is worried about the potential closure of a Rowlands branch in Rodbourne Road, Swindon. Photo: LDRS

A Swindon councillor has been urging his borough council to write to NHS England to keep a local community pharmacy in operation.

Councillor Kevin Small is worried about the potential closure of a Rowlands Pharmacy branch in Rodbourne Road.

Rowlands, which operates over 450 pharmacies nationwide, has made an application to close the branch and transfer its services to another pharmacy in Park Lane.

A spokesperson for the chain told Pharmacy Business that it was forced to “consolidate” where it could because of state of “pharmacy funding” in England.

“Rowlands is committed to providing communities with the best pharmaceutical care service possible. Due to government pharmacy funding restrictions we are continually reviewing our network of branches across England and consolidating where possible, in order to provide more patient services, which is what the government pharmacy contract now requires.

“Our Rodbourne branch is still under review and Rowlands is working closely with all parties involved to ensure the future care needs of the local and surrounding communities are carefully considered.”

Although the initial consultation period over the pharmacy close is over and the Primary Care Commissioning Community Interest Company has been talking to NHS England about this, councillor Small thinks Swindon Borough Council can step in now by expressing its support to keep the pharmacy open.

According to Aled Thomas, local democracy reporter, Small has put forward a motion in tonight’s (March 25) council meeting which urges the council to write to NHS England in support of efforts to keep the branch in operation.

Small said: “A lot of people are very concerned about the plan to close the branch in Rodbourne Road. The nearest branch for them would be in Park Lane which is half a mile away.

“You have to go under the railway line to get there which isn’t the best path and often covered in pigeon mess – a lot of elderly people wouldn’t want to couldn’t get to Park Lane, there’s no parking there and residents’ parking nearby, so it’s not a good location to get to for people from Rodbourne.”

Small represents Mannington and Western ward in Swindon. He added: “Park Lane pharmacy is about three doors away from the doctor’s surgery – one of the many messages about trying to relieve pressure on the NHS and GPs is to go to a pharmacist instead of a doctor, initially.

“For a lot of people in Rodbourne, there’d be no point in going to a pharmacy if it’s no closer than their doctors, so this will add pressure on the surgery.

Small said he hoped the motion tonight would get support from all councillors. “I’d hope to get 100 per cent support from members in our attempt to keep this vital facility open for the people of Rodbourne.”

Previously Small and his ward colleagues Steph Exell and Jim Robbins had arranged a petition online which received more than 800 signatures of people wanting to retain the pharmacy. (With input from Local Democracy Reporting Service)

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