Don’t shut our ‘vital’ pharmacy, plead residents

Hundreds of people have joined a campaign urging Boots not to shut its pharmacy in Southmead Road.
They say news of the proposed closure in mid-January has come as a blow to the local community, which was not consulted.

An online petition has been set up urging Boots to think again about the branch, which serves parts of Horfield, Henleaze, Southmead and Westbury on Trym.

Within a week, it had collected more than 500 signatures and won support from a number of councillors.
The petition says that the shop at 37 Southmead Road is “a very busy, well used and well-loved” pharmacy that has served the community for many years.

One campaigner, Neil Goldsmith, said: “It is always full of customers, particularly accessing the pharmacy for both prescription medicines and advice, as well as buying the retail staples ranging from shampoo to vitamins.
“The branch is particularly important for those in the local community who have no means of transport and a significant proportion of the customers walk to the branch as it is surrounded by residential streets.
“The staff at the branch know many patients by name, know their circumstances, and also provide support for some of the more vulnerable of our community.”

The alternative suggested by Boots, its branch in Henleaze Road, was not a walkable distance and was in any case also very busy so would not have capacity to take on the additional demand, Mr Goldsmith said.
Southmead Councillor Brenda Massey said: “I would be very sorry to see the pharmacy close. Many of the residents who use it may well not have any means of transport to a different site, and will now be extremely concerned about how they can collect potentially life-saving medicines without an accessible chemist close to them.

“I do hope that Boots will reconsider their decision and potentially hold a public meeting where they can listen to the public comments” Henleaze & Westbury on Trym Councillor Steve Smith, who chairs Bristol City Council’s Health Overview & Scrutiny Commission, is also against this closure. “At this time when general practice and community healthcare is so stretched, the local pharmacy is an increasingly important part of our healthcare. Many residents in my ward rely upon this branch, and I join them in urging Boots to reconsider its closure,” he said.

Councillors Philippa Hulme and Tom Renhard, Horfield Ward, commented: “There is no other pharmacy in this area for the residents to use. Horfield residents have contacted us to say how devastated they are that Boots has decided to close the branch. We know this is a well-used and loved branch, which is providing a vital community need to many.”

Councillor Hulme added: “I am also a customer of this branch myself so as well as supporting my constituents concerns it will impact directly on me too.”

Boots is shutting about 300 pharmacies across the country as the company ”evolves its estate”. It says staff will be moved to other branches.