Boots UK has confirmed it will be ‘slightly’ reducing ‘supplementary’ opening hours at some pharmacies where it says demand from customers is lower.

This follows a recent review the company conducted into its pharmacy team structures to ensure they have the ‘right team members in the right places to serve our patients’, a spokesperson from Boots UK told The Pharmacist.

Although they did not reveal how many stores this would impact, the spokesperson said the impact of these changes to pharmacy team roles will be minimal. However, they said it was too early to confirm specific details.

The company said that the reduction of supplementary opening hours will represent a decrease of less than 6% of Boots UK pharmacy opening hours across the UK.

‘Our ambition for healthcare is to empower our pharmacy team members to play a greater role in primary care, spending more time with patients and operating at the centre of their evolving healthcare needs,’ they said.

‘To do this, we must carefully assess our pharmacy network to ensure that our provision is offered where and when it is needed,’ they added.

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) issued a statement this week (18 January) outlining its concerns surrounding reports that Boots plans to cut back on additionally contracted hours.

The union said it was concerned that a reduction in pharmacy opening hours would negatively impact patient access to a trusted healthcare professional.

‘As the largest community pharmacy multiple, even small reductions in opening hours when aggregated may add up to a significant reduction of access to valuable pharmacy services across Boots,’ it said.

Despite assurance from Boots UK that changes to pharmacy team roles will be minimal, the union also expressed concern over the possibility of redundancies.

‘Should a decrease in pharmacy opening hours result in a change in an individual’s contracted hours then this could mean their specific role is no longer available.

‘[These] changes could result in redundancies if no suitable alternative role is agreed,’ they argued.

Boots UK also confirmed today that 200 of its pharmacies, announced in 2019 as marked for closure, have now been closed. At the time, Boots’ parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), said that this was the result of ‘difficult market conditions in the UK’.

Last weekend, the Sunday Times reported supermarket chain Asda is reportedly considering a takeover of Boots UK.

In December, The Pharmacist looked into what major players in the pharmacy multiples had been consolidating their business positions and what might the knock-on effects for independents be.