A pharmacist has warned of a growing crisis in York after it emerged that pharmacies across the city have temporarily closed due to staff shortages.
Boots’ Kings Square store closed entirely on Monday, while others in Heworth and East Parade only opened for a limited period.
The pharmacy at the Tesco Askham Bar store closed for selected hours on six occasions in late July and early August, while the pharmacy at the Clifton Moor store was also open with a slightly reduced opening on “a few occasions” in July.
Paul Brett, of Monkbar Pharmacy, said other areas of the UK have been temporarily closing and reducing opening hours for months and warned that unless “something significant is done, and very quickly, to address the crisis”, Yorkers will not be able to count on that their pharmacy will be open when they need it.
He said the shortage of pharmacists was due to a “perfect storm” of strained GP practices being paid by the NHS to recruit pharmacists to ease their pressure, internet companies recruiting pharmacists for telecommuting and spiraling costs of pharmacists.
The NHS has also increasingly recognized pharmacy as a provider of clinical services that can take the burden off GP practice.
“New services are being ordered and expected from pharmacists all the time, and because of HMRC’s taxation rules, even services that can be provided by a nurse, pharmacy technician or other trained support staff (eg blood pressure) must be provided by a pharmacist. if they are carried out as part of an NHS service,” he said.
He said Brexit could also have contributed to the problems as it was now harder for pharmacists from the EU to come and work here, and Covid had also had an impact, with the stress and work pressures of working on the frontline taking their toll, with many choosing to leave the profession or work part-time.
A Boots spokesman said the company was experiencing some “pharmacist resource issues” but its teams were working hard to keep stores open, minimize disruption to customers and provide the best possible service.
“This has meant that we have unfortunately had to change the opening hours of some stores,” they said.
“We apologize to the customers who were affected and thank them for their patience and kindness with our team members during this time.”
They added that according to the recommendations of the General Pharmaceutical Council, depending on the pharmacy license, some pharmacies had to close if there was no pharmacist in charge.
A spokeswoman for Tesco said the company was “proud to have a strong network of pharmacies that support our customers” and provide vital services.
She said that in areas where demand was particularly difficult, local pharmacy managers were working to provide the necessary cover and Tesco would always do its best to keep the pharmacy open.