I wanted to provide an update on the campaign, at the time of writing on 31st January 2024.
I wrote to Boots’ Managing Director Sebastian James to present the petition and once again urge Boots to reconsider its closure of the popular store, backed by over 700 local residents.
Carolyn Burton, a local Sidmouth resident, organised a paper version to ensure everyone in the community had the chance to make their voice heard.
Unfortunately, despite all our best efforts, Boots’ Managing Director replied to say that they will be pressing ahead and closing the store on 24th February 2024.
This is bitterly disappointing news.
The key questions now are how residents find moving to other pharmacies and what happens to the store.
On moving customers to other pharmacies, Boots’ Managing Director told me: “We are working closely with local GP surgeries to support patients to transfer their care and prescriptions to alternative pharmacies so there is continuity in access to medicines and the provision of healthcare advice and services in the local community. Whilst we accept that we are asking local patients to travel further, the Boots store at Fore Street in Sidmouth town centre is approximately 1 mile away and accessible by public transport. Home delivery of NHS prescriptions is also available when customers sign up to use the Boots Online Prescriptions Service which may be an option for some local residents to consider.”
I also raised concerns with NHS Devon, who told me: “We would encourage patients to nominate an alternative pharmacy sooner rather than later – this can be done in the pharmacy of the patient’s choice, via the NHS App or via their GP practice. While delivery services are not an NHS requirement, some community pharmacies do offer this (there might be a charge); so, for people who may find it harder to directly access the nearest alternative pharmacies this may be an option. Alternatively there are NHS Distance Selling Pharmacies who provide a delivery only service, a list of these can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/other-health-services/pharmacies/internetpharmacies”
I wanted to highlight that the nearest alternative pharmacies to the closing store are:
- Sidmouth Independent Pharmacy, 81 High Street, Sidmouth, EX10 8LD – 01392 327960
- The Beacon Medical Centre, Sedemunda Road, Sidford, Sidmouth, EX10 9YA – 01395 513478
- Boots Pharmacy, Fore Street, Sidmouth, EX10 8AH – 01395 513307
If you are a Boots Woolbrook customer, please could you let me know if have any problems with deliveries and prescriptions in moving to an alternative pharmacy. If you have already moved, please feel free to let me know how you are finding being with a new pharmacy.
In terms of what now happens to the store, I pressed NHS Devon for on answers regarding pharmacy licenses and the use of the premises should closure go ahead. I’ve heard back from NHS Devon who said there are no restrictions from an NHS perspective in relating to closing a site. NHS Devon added, however, that East Devon District Council would need decide on whether a change of use would need to be applied for by the owner of the property. Boots are, I understand, leaseholders of the store. So it would ultimately be for the freeholder to decide what to do next and whether to advertise to new tenants.
I thank you for your support and I will look to share further updates in due course.