The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) is calling on health centre landlords to take into account that pharmacy spending power is shrinking, when setting rents for health centre pharmacies. In May, the NPA wrote to NHS Property Services to voice its concerns over the rising cost of rent for its members.
Some NPA members are reporting demands for a three-fold increase in rent.
Many pharmacies operate in premises of which NHS Property Services is the landlord. In a letter last month to chief executive Martin Steele, the NPA highlighted reduced funding in the community pharmacy sector and asked for prompt action to ensure the viability of health centre pharmacies.
The letter said: “The past years have seen far fewer patients in health centres and therefore using the on-site pharmacy – whilst the situation will change somewhat as we move out of the pandemic we expect a permanent impact on workload as practices handle more of their interactions virtually.
“The NPA encourages NHS Property Services to review lease agreements involving community pharmacies and consider favourable changes to terms that are in line with current financial realities affecting the sector. This could avoid the loss of a pharmacy service to communities and the resulting loss of rental income to NHS Property Services.”
Raj Patel, Board Member of the NPA, said: “It is alarming to see that property and rent prices are going up. This is against the backdrop of long-term underfunding of £497m per year according to the NPA commissioned EY report, rising inflation and the ‘cost of doing business’ crisis.
“Health centre pharmacies are contending with the general financial pressure in the sector but in addition, are dealing with lower footfall as practices change the way they engage with patients. Many of our members are facing significant financial pressures as a result.
“We have already been in dialogue with the leadership of NHS Property Services on this matter. While they have confirmed to us that they will work with tenants facing financial challenges in specific circumstances, we are asking them to go much further.
“We are asking all health centre landlords to recognise that rents are increasingly unaffordable. It is in the long-term interest of both the landlords and tenants that a realistic solution is found as a matter of urgency.”