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NHS landlord triples rent for independent pharmacy

Pharmacy News

NHS landlord triples rent for independent pharmacy

The National Pharmacy Association has said some of its members are being faced with massive rent hikes from health centre landlords, including NHS Property Services.

The NPA highlighted the concerns of its members based in health centres as landlords demand increased payment, in some cases up threefold from previous arrangements.  

Asked whether any of the demands to triple rent payments had come from a health centre owned by NHSPS, the NPA told Pharmacy Network News there had been at least one such request.

The NPA wrote to NHSPS last month warning that with fewer patients travelling to see their GP since the pandemic began, many of these pharmacies are dealing with reduced footfall, potentially leading to a “permanent impact on workload”.

The trade body asked chief executive Martin Steele “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 NHSPS.” 

When approached for comment, Mr Steele told PNN that NHSPS was willing to work with pharmacy customers to “ensure communities are able to access pharmacy services and that value for the NHS continues to be obtained and protected”.

He added: “We will engage with individual pharmacy operators to explore options and assist with lease terms where there are potential financial difficulties.” 

NPA board member Raj Patel 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 NHSPS 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.”

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