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Govt ‘working with NHS to ensure fair pharmacy rents’

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Govt ‘working with NHS to ensure fair pharmacy rents’

Health minister Maria Caulfield has said the Department of Health and Social Care is working with the NHS to ensure rents are applied to community pharmacies in a “fair and transparent” way.

Ms Caulfield’s remarks were in response to a written question from shadow health and social care secretary Feryal Clark, who had asked whether the department has “had discussions with the NHS Property Service on the impact of increasing rents on community pharmacies”.

There have been reports in recent months of significant rent increases in some pharmacy premises owned by NHS Property Services, with London contractor Gurdev Chenna claiming he had been hit with a threefold hike on one of his branches.

Ms Caulfield – who was promoted from primary care minister to minister of state for health and social care in a reshuffle today – responded to Ms Clarke: “The Department has held discussions with NHS Property Services regarding specific instances where rent reviews are due at pharmacies located in health centres it operates and owns. 

“When undertaking such rent reviews, NHS Property Services uses a standard valuation approach for calculating the proposed level of rental charges to ensure it recovers the costs of operating the premises, which are then negotiated and agreed with the pharmacies concerned on a case-by-case basis.

“The Department is working with NHS Property Services to ensure that the application of this approach is fair and transparent.”

Income ‘substantially affected’

Commenting on the rent increase at one health centre branch from £25,038 to £80,000 a year, Mr Channa told Independent Community Pharmacist in June that NHSPS is using outdated guidance to work out rents that does not take into account the financial impact of the electronic prescription service, which he said had reduced the number of patients coming into co-located pharmacies and was “substantially affecting” their income.

Mr Channa said his pharmacy’s current rent is charged on a per-square-meter basis and NHSPS was basing the new rent on guidance that was issued by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in 2010 when EPS “was in its infancy”.

He warned new guidance was needed “to safeguard the provision of pharmacy services in the local communities".

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