As most residents will be aware, we needed to vacate Verwood Pharmacy's prior premises at Lake Road Surgery by the 30th June 2023 due to the expiry of our lease, and subsequently began the process of securing and renovating the old Lloyds Bank site at Bank Court, 10 Manor Road as our new home, planning to open there on the 23rd June, and ensure continuity of service.
At a similar time, we discovered that Lloyds Pharmacy were divesting their store in Station Road and we wanted to continue supporting their staff and customers, as most are Verwood Residents like us, so we began steps to acquire and run their operation in parallel.
Part of the process of moving a pharmacy premises involves an application to relocate the NHS contract, which we duly applied for in December 2022. Sadly, despite delivering on all our targets against tight timelines to open the Bank Court site on time, we found out from the NHS just a few days before we were due to move (and well over their 4-month decision deadline) that they had rejected our relocation application, ostensibly due to patient convenience. This was despite it being clear that we had no lease to continue trading at Lake Road and would otherwise have to close the pharmacy, which was substantially more inconvenient for patients than any relocation could have been. The NHS also made a mistake on their measurement of the distance between the two sites, despite the correct distance being provided on our submission, which was of great detriment as it potentially changed the 'no significant change' classification of the application and hence affected the decision.
Despite the mistake, the only option open to us was the standard appeal process, which takes several months and would have been far too late given the imminent expiry of the lease. Nevertheless, the good news was that in the meantime we had completed our purchase of the Station Road site, taking over the NHS contract there. This allowed us to move to Bank Court as planned, but with NHS patients needing to choose to renominate their pharmacy to the Station Road site if they wished to stay with us. Since this time, we have been operating the Bank Court site as a non-NHS 'hub' that does almost all of the dispensing work, whilst the Station Road 'spoke' essentially became an NHS prescription collection point in a 'hub and spoke' model.
Whilst this has been working, it of course introduced a number of operational difficulties. Not least of which, is that patients have been unable to collect NHS prescriptions from our brand new Bank Court premises, which were designed to be able to provide the required prescription volumes needed in Verwood.
Following the NHS's decision on our relocation application, we consulted Rushport Advisory, one of the foremost experts on NHS contractual situations, to work out the best way forward for our pharmacy and the residents of Verwood.
Verwood Council and the Cranborne Patient Participation Group (PPG) have also been immensely supportive throughout the challenging circumstances imposed on us; both in helping us to determine the best outcome and in liaising with the NHS to ensure they deliver on this in an expedient fashion.
We are really pleased to announce that, with their assistance, and following a further relocation application, we have some positive news to share.
On Saturday the 9th December 2023, we will be relocating our NHS contract from Station Road to our flagship Bank Court site at 10 Manor Road. This means that we will be able to provide our full range of NHS services from the new premises, which has been designed to cater for the needs of Verwood and the changing face of pharmacy.
Additionally, we will be able to start work on offering a new range of private services, as per our original proposals, from the 4 purpose-built consultation/ clinic rooms at Bank Court.
This of course means that our Station Road store will therefore be closing at the end of the day on Friday the 8th December 2023.
Having only one NHS contract across the two sites, due to the issues described above, means that we are unable to continue operating both premises, as we had originally envisaged when we embarked on this journey.
However, our Bank Court site was always designed to cater for the full needs of Verwood and the dispensing volumes of both locations, so we're excited to finally be able to realise the potential of our ideas.
From the 9th December 2023, all of our patients and customers will be able to benefit from:
As mentioned above, once we are able to consolidate our two locations to Bank Court on the 9th December, we will finally be able to start working on new service delivery such as minor ailment services, and the plans for the 1st floor renovation.
We also have exciting plans for a new pharmacy system that will vastly improve the efficiency of our service and give greater clarity to patients on when their prescription is ready to collect.
We will have more announcements on this in due course, but as a sneak preview, watch this space for the launch of our new ear health service, which will include HD digital otoscopy, microsuction ear wax removal and hearing checks, supported by experienced ENT professionals. Coming very soon to Verwood Pharmacy at Bank Court.
We'd once again like to extend our gratitude to Verwood Council, the PPG and the many other advisors that have assisted us in achieving this outcome, which will provide long-term benefits to our Verwood locality. Most of all though, we'd like to thank you, our amazing patients, for the support, understanding and patience shown during this challenging year. Now we can resume our focus on delivering high-quality healthcare services to you.