A BOSS at Boots has confirmed the company is closing its pharmacy in Norton Fitzwarren.

Sebastian James, senior vice president and managing director of Boots in the UK and Ireland, said staff had been informed the pharmacy in Coopers Mill would cease trading in February next year.

In a letter to Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow - which a Boots spokesperson said the Gazette is at liberty to quote - Mr James said: "The context is our business update in June where Boots announced that we would be accelerating our store optimisation programme in this financial year, with a particular focus on our pharmacy portfolio.

"This will involve the phased consolidation of around 300 stores across the UK, especially pharmacies that are in close proximity.

"These changes will enable Boots to better focus store investment and concentrate our workforce, notably pharmacists, more efficiently across the country, which is important as we prepare to offer the NHS Common Conditions service in the coming months.

Following a review of our store portfolio in the local area, we have decided to consolidate pharmacy operations in Taunton with the closure of the pharmacy in Norton Fitzwarren.

"Team members affected by this decision will be offered alternative roles in other Boots stores.

"We recognise that some local customers and store team members are disappointed, but the decision has not been taken lightly.

"After the closure, your constituents will be able to access pharmacy services at the nearby Boots stores, including the branch on Taunton High Street which is less than three miles away.

"We will also work closely with the NHS and local GP surgeries in the run up to the closure to ensure that patients are fully informed and supported to have their care and prescriptions transferred so there is continuity in access to medicines and the provision of healthcare advice and services.

"Please be assured that Boots remains committed to supporting the local community in Norton Fitzwarren and continuing to deliver high standards of service to our customers and patients in Taunton."

It is understood that the Boots pharmacy attached to Wellington Medical Centre is also due to close in February.

The spokesperson said there would be no further comment from Boots.