Only pharmacy in one of Weston-super-Mare's most deprived areas to close

Stock image of a Boots Pharmacy Credit: PA Images

Plans to close the only pharmacy in one of the country’s most deprived areas have prompted fears that people will be left in an “impossible” situation.

The Boots on the Bournville Estate in Weston-super-Mare serves one of the most deprived communities in Somerset and in the country as a whole. But the pharmacy — located just across the road from the neighbourhood GP — will close in February.

Ian Parker, one of the two councillors for Weston-super-Mare South on North Somerset Council said: “Almost half of Bournville residents have no access to a motor vehicle. The two nearest pharmacies are approximately one mile and one and a half miles from Bournville.

“Having to walk these distances to obtain medical supplies would be impossible for some and probably add to their health condition for others.”

An online petition urging the decision to close the surgery to be reconsidered has so far gathered more than 250 signatures. A paper version of the petition can also be signed in the For All Healthy Living Centre.

Mr Parker added: “Having a pharmacy with a pharmacist within walking distance from home, for many users, means they can retain a level of social independence without relying on friends or relatives who drive to collect their prescriptions.

“The decision to close the Bournville pharmacy has been made without any thought to the people who will be affected.”

Fellow Weston-super-Mare South councillor James Clayton added: “The residents already have a lot to deal with including cost of living pressures and struggling to manage their healthcare needs in a timely and effective way.

“We want them to have a chemist nearby.

"Boots is ideal as it’s directly opposite their local GP practice and they can easily move between the two buildings for their healthcare needs. The loss of an easy-to-access service could have dire consequences at an individual and community level.”

Together with Jenna Ho Marris, the executive member of North Somerset Council responsible for public health, and council leader Mike Bell, the councillors have signed letters to Boots and the NHS about the planned closure.

This is the Boots Pharmacy that will be closing in February. Credit: Google Maps

Ms Ho Marris described the pharmacy as “essential.”

She said: “Despite everything, this is a resilient community, and the care and knowledge of local pharmacists plays a huge part.

“Pharmacies are businesses, but funding has been cut year after year, leaving big and small operators alike running at a loss, and the real price will fall on local people.”

Mr Bell said: “We are calling on Boots and NHS commissioners to rethink this decision and find a way to ensure that the community still have a chemist nearby. We’ll continue to campaign on their behalf until an appropriate alternative model of care is confirmed.

“This is not something that can be left to chance.”

The closure of Boots on the Bournville Estate follows the loss of the store in Glastonbury.

In relation to those closures, a Boots spokeswoman said: “Evolving the store estate in this way allows Boots to concentrate its team members where they are needed and focus investment more acutely in individual stores with the ambition of consistently delivering an excellent and reliable service in a fresh and up-to-date environment.”

We have approached Boots for comment on the closure of the Bournville store.

Credit: John Wimperis, Local Democracy Reporting Service.