High rents still a major problem for pharmacies, warns NPA
By Neil Trainis
The National Pharmacy Association has warned community pharmacies based in health centres are still struggling to make ends meet because of high rents seven months after the government promised to resolve the issue and urged landlords to allow pharmacists to renegotiate rates part-way through a contract.
The NPA’s director of corporate affairs Gareth Jones said the formula used by landlords, based on “historical assumptions about how many prescriptions the co-located GP will generate for the pharmacy,” was outdated and “no longer fit for purpose.”
Calling on landlords to consider “that pharmacy spending power is shrinking” when determining rents, he said: “All health centre landlords should 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.”
In July last year, the then health minister Maria Caulfield said the Department of Health and Social Care was working with the NHS to ensure rents were applied to community pharmacies in a “fair and transparent” way and insisted the DHSC had held discussions with NHS Property Services (NHSPS), the landlords for the majority of pharmacy premises in health centres, about the issue.
The problem, however, has not been resolved. The NPA said one of its members who owns a chain of pharmacies in London, three based in NHS premises, revealed his rent has doubled in the last two years. He also described his service charges as “crazy.”
The NPA said that for almost a year, it has been in talks with NHSPS senior management who had given it assurances “the issue of pharmacy rents will be taken to their board for scrutiny.”
Last year, the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies also called on landlords to take a "more realistic approach" when it came to determining rents.