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Retail giant Boots tries to thwart plans for new pharmacy in Newbury town centre

A PHARMACIST who wants to open a new town centre store has appealed to the public for help.

Chaudhry Abbas believes there is a need for an independent pharmacy, citing “unacceptable waiting times” for patients in Newbury.

Chaudhry Abbas
Chaudhry Abbas

But retail giant Boots has objected and is trying to block the move.

Mr Abbas, who qualified 15 years ago, has previously worked in Newbury pharmacies and said: “People are really struggling – the current service is so bad.

“They struggle to get their prescriptions filled on time and there are problems with stock.

“I believe there is a real need for an independent outlet in the town centre, perhaps in Market Place.”

He added: “Lloyds Pharmacy in Sainsbury’s and the Superdrug pharmacy on High Street have closed, which has forced all those patients to be reluctantly transferred to the only remaining pharmacy in the town centre – Boots.

“Consequently, Boots is overwhelmed with the demand, resulting in unacceptable waiting times for prescriptions and medicine.

“This can be verified by a quick glance at the overwhelming Google reviews which highlight the scale of the issue.

“Newbury town centre and its vicinity is in desperate need of another pharmacy.”

He said the pharmaceutical and retail giant was acting to maintain a “monopoly” in the town centre.

Boots has formally objected to the licensing body, NHS England, stating that there is no such need.

The Newbury Weekly News has contacted Boots for a comment but none had been received as the newspaper went to press.

Town centre councillor for Newbury Town Council, former mayor Elizabeth O’Keefe, said she believed there was, indeed, a need for a new pharmacy.

She told the NWN that existing local outlets are “at times overrun” and added: “You can spend 40 to 50 minutes in a queue only to be told it’s not ready or they can’t get it – and then have to repeat the whole process next day.”

A solicitor acting on behalf of CA-Health Ltd, Mr Abbas’ company, stated: “There is clear and compelling evidence that the one remaining pharmacy in the town centre (following the closure of Lloyds and Superdrug pharmacies) is under significant pressure and cannot cope with current demand.

“Additional housing in Newbury, which will increase the catchment population of local pharmacies by many thousands, will only exacerbate these clear and obvious pressures.”

Mr Abbas, who lives in Didcot, Oxfordshire, has asked the public to back him by completing a form, which he will present to NHS licencing authorities to bolster his application.

The form can be downloaded at https://shorturl.at/IJKW7

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