Regular Gazette readers will recall that I raised previous questions regarding unannounced closures of Lloyds Pharmacy in Wotton under Edge earlier this year.

Sadly, this happened again last week, when it was completely closed exclusively during, if not all the day, on at least 4 occasions.

On Saturday, like others in the queue, I was assured it was going to open, which it did, eventually, but not on time.

Wotton is relatively remote, with residents, including many elderly, needing essential and timely prescriptions etc. They are not able to go elsewhere due to the monopoly held by Lloyds and transport links and the current timetabling of buses in and out of Wotton unpredictable.

Being ‘signed-up’ to one particular pharmacy adds to the problem and other pharmacies are unable to replicate ‘made-up’ prescriptions.

Further, I find it rather bizarre that Pharmacies have to remain completely shut if there is no Pharmacist present.

Essential prescription have been made up and formally checked, so I do not know what the problem is in handing them over.

There is never any reference to the Pharmacist when collecting them. I, of course, appreciate that prescriptions require professional dispensing, but the sale of hygiene, tooth paste, soap and first aid products etc don’t.

A local supermarket less than 25m away sells a good range of these product unhindered. However, I appreciate that not everyone wants to do multi-shop shopping, particularly the elderly or those with disability and the restricted parking.

I spoke to Lloyds Head Office last Friday and was told the Area Manager would contact me to discuss.

As I write, I am still waiting. I spoke to Gloucestershire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group last July about the previous closures, but, I received no response.

I have contacted them again and am waiting some feedback. It seems no one really cares. Simply ‘Over the Hill’ and forgotten about.

I appreciate that Covid is probably affecting Lloyds staffing levels as elsewhere, but would it not be possible/sensible to share the services of another local Pharmacist between two branches and make social media announcements and displayed notices of when the premises will be open? ‘We are shut and don’t know when we will reopen’ is unhelpful to say the least.

That way residents could make arrangements for prescriptions to be picked up, instead of making several unfruitful journeys.

Previously, essential medications were not available for 5 days, as they were sat in the fridge behind locked doors.

It was fortuitous that I had ordered early, but others might not be so fortunate.

This reoccurring situation continues to be totally unacceptable and I have written to our local MPs, Siobhan Baillie and Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown to seek their support.

By the time you read this, I will also have met with them (Wednesday) and will have requested they ‘ask questions’ to the appropriate Minister about such total closures, as the current position seems iniquitous and unnecessary.’

Cllr Ken Tucker (Lib Dem Ward Councillor -Wotton)