JAMES SEMPLE ? FACT OR FICTION?
JAMES SEMPLE – FACT OR FICTION? Mr Semple has enjoyed recent Press coverage regarding the new pharmacy in the Post Office. Unfortunately, his claims have not been 100% true and the Community Council feel that the record should be put straight, thus giving a balanced perspective and allowing the Public to draw their own conclusions based on all the facts.
We should start with the first time the Leuchars Community Council (LCC) had contact with Mr Semple. I would like to have said “met Mr Semple”, but alas am unable to do so as he has to date, avoided all invitations to meet with any of the public he is so desperate to serve.
Mr Semple claimed in an interview to the Courier that “his firm had been given no opportunity other than an invitation to an ‘anti-pharmacy rally’ to put its case”
Mr Semple’s first contact with the LCC was through an email to its Chairperson, stating that “it is unfortunate that – so far – the applicants have failed to properly engage with the community to redress this imbalance of information, and now that I am involved remedying this situation is one of my first priorities.”
He then subsequently declined an invitation to meet with the LCC on the 6th of October, stating “I have something on that day but will try and make it”. No word either way after that – obviously not much of a priority!
Mr Semple states in an interview for the St Andrews Citizen that claims by local doctors that their practice could be under threat are “hugely misleading”.
The threat to the Leuchars GP Practice is not an isolated case – indeed, in England, the Westminster Government published the Pharmacy White Paper in April 2008 which would have required dispensing Practices south of the border to cease selling medicines if a pharmacy opened close to them , thus resulting in the loss of dispensing income. The Dispensing Doctors Association (DDA) argued that any change to the system would destabilise more than 700 GP practices, resulting in job losses and service cut-backs, with millions of patients denied a choice over where to get their drugs, and others services – such as home visits – threatened.
Whilst the Scottish NHS system is obviously devolved to the Scottish Government, the impact of any changes is common cross border. The Westminster Government decided, in the face of such opposition, to scrap their plans in the December and Dr David Baxter of the DDA said the decision was a “victory for common sense” which “will allow both professions (pharmacists and GPs) to concentrate on working more closely together to the benefit of all patients rather than expending energy and time on fighting a turf war, which would be in nobody’s best interest”.
Mr Semple claims that villagers in Leuchars risk losing their post office if protestors continue their ‘nasty’ campaign against the pharmacy that’s due to open in the spring and that the current proprietors are being victimised as a result of the actions of the anti-pharmacy lobby.
I assume from his comments that he means that less people are using the Post Office. As a member of the anti-pharmacy lobby, the LCC has always stood up for the views of the majority, as is its mandate. The LCC has never, on any occasion, victimised, encouraged others to victimise, or indeed run a nasty campaign against the proprietors of the post office. There will inevitably be those individuals who feel let down by the proprietors of the post office, who went on record regarding the failed Levenbrae application to say that it was “never our intention to cause any distress or concern among health service users”. Given the second application, some residents may have found these to be hollow words and have subsequently decided to vote with their feet. Mr Semple’s allegations are, however, very serious and he should be prepared to substantiate them.
Interestingly enough, in the Minutes of the National Appeals Panel of 15th December 2009, Mr Semple stated that he “believed that the premises were too large for the post office and that the postmaster would probably transfer to other premises in due course”. A strange assumption, given the fact that Mr Semple himself struggled to find other premises in the village before convincing the post office to accept – so where does he assume they could move to that is smaller than their current building, unless he is intimating that they would be leaving the village?
Mr Semples only concerns are for that of his pharmacy. Residents have travelled the short distances to surrounding pharmacies for years and will still have that choice regardless of how many pharmacies are opened in the surrounding area. His objection to a pharmacy in Balmullo being unnecessary because of the proximity of the Leuchars pharmacy is baseless. He claims that less than a mile separates the two communities. This is true if you happen to be a ‘Crow’, whereas the realities of motorised transportation dictate that the distance is in fact 2.5 miles via Toll road and 3.1 miles via St Michaels. Precedence has already been set by NHS Fife in allowing a pharmacy to be sited in Aberdour, which is only 2.9 miles from Dalgety Bay.
I feel that the public has a right to know the facts regarding Mr Semple and his application. The LCC has proof to back up its words and challenge Mr Semple to say likewise. With regards to his serious allegations of victimisation, I suggest the he passes on his evidence to the proper authorities.
The LCC has copies of the minutes from the PPC and NAP regarding both Levenbrae and FM&P applications should anyone wish to study them. Mr Semples comments make for interesting reading, my favourite being his admission that 52% of the population, as recorded in his own survey, did not want a pharmacy in Leuchars!