THREE Boots stores in York have been forced to close temporarily because of a shortage of pharmacists.

A Boots spokesperson said that the company's city centre store in KIngs Square was closed all day on Monday.

They said its Heworth store was closed for a majority of the day, opening only from 11am until 1pm and its East Parade store was only open from 1.30pm until 5.30pm.

The spokesperson said that like other pharmacies, Boots was experiencing some 'challenges with pharmacist resource.'

They said: "Our teams are working hard to keep stores open, minimise disruption for customers and provide the best possible service.

"This has meant we have unfortunately had to alter our opening times at some stores.

"We apologise to customers who have been affected and thank them for bearing with us and being kind to our team members at this time.”

They added that in line with General Pharmaceutical Council guidelines, depending on the pharmacy licence, some pharmacies had to close if there wasn’t a responsible pharmacist present.

A source has told The Press that at least one other major pharmacy in York has had to close for 'some days' recently, and another has had to reduce its hours.

"It's the pressure the whole sector is under, not the fault of the companies themselves," they claimed.

"It's important that people realise that this might become a more regular occurence if the NHS doesn't address underfunding of community pharmacy."

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) issued an open letter last month demanding urgent action to prevent 'unnecessary full or part-day closures of community pharmacies throughout the UK by some of the large multiple operators.'

It claimed some large pharmacy businesses were choosing, with impunity, to restrict patients’ access to NHS funded services and cause harm to patients.

"Pharmacy closures have become widespread and are now being orchestrated," it claimed.

"This does not just deny communities access to a pharmacy and increase the demands on other parts of the health system, but also places individual patients at risk if they cannot access medicines, services, and advice."