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People on deprived estate will die if it has no pharmacy, warns councillor

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People on deprived estate will die if it has no pharmacy, warns councillor

People in Weston-super-Mare rely heavily on their local pharmacies.
People in Weston-super-Mare rely heavily on their local pharmacies.

Councillor Jeremy Blatchford told a meeting of North Somerset Council’s health and wellbeing board this week that the closure of a Boots branch in a deprived part of Weston-super-Mare will leave the town without a pharmacy and result in people dying.

Blatchford delivered his stark warning to the Board’s meeting on Wednesday after Boots notified NHS England of its intention to close the pharmacy on the Bournville estate on February 24.

The decision to close the pharmacy has generated great concern amongst local residents who rely on it for their medicines and other important health services such as substance misuse, smoking cessation and emergency hormonal contraception.

A report by North Somerset Council said the estate’s population has high rates of diabetes, smoking, obesity, respiratory illnesses such as COPD and asthma and mental health conditions as well as the second highest level of disability in North Somerset. 

The report said the nearest “most accessible” pharmacy is on the Oldmixon Estate, a 23-minute walk away, which “has already indicated capacity issues that would limit its ability to take on more clients”. The board said it supported an application to open a new pharmacy on the estate.

“The area has a significant population of very vulnerable groups that have very limited means of accessing other pharmacies nearby”, the report said.

It warned the pharmacy’s closure will restrict patients’ access to emergency contraception which will lead “to more unwanted pregnancies and/or terminations” while drug users and the 17 people who use the branch to access opiate substitution therapy on a daily basis are “unlikely to travel to other pharmacies daily and there is a risk they will stop engaging with treatment and safer injection practices”.

“If we don’t have a pharmacy here, to put it bluntly, people are going to die,” Blatchford told the board meeting, according to Somerset Live which also quoted Mark Graham, the chief executive of The For All Healthy Living Company which provides services, facilities and activities for the local community and is opposite the Boots pharmacy, as saying it was a “horrific, scary situation”.

Daniel Aldridge, who is standing to be selected as Labour's candidate for Weston-super-Mare, started a petition in December to try and keep the pharmacy open.

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