Dismay over approval of Leuchars pharmacy
Dismay over approval of Leuchars pharmacy. The decision to allow a new dispensing pharmacy to be sited in Leuchars post office could cause more damage to community health care than an outbreak of swine flu, according to furious residents.
Members of Leuchars, Balmullo and Guardbridge community councils were due to have crisis talks with local GPs last night (Thursday) amid claims that the surgeries in Leuchars and Balmullo could be under threat from the new service.
Despite having turned down a previous, almost identical, application, the NHS pharmacy practices committee has given the green light to Fraser, McPherson and Partners, which has the same registered address as the previous applicants, Levenbrae Ltd.
Levenbrae's application for a licence was turned down following a petition attracting around 2000 signatures and some 150 letters of protest, and angry residents have vowed to do 'everything in their power' to stop the latest application going ahead.
Campaigner Alan Kennedy, of Balmullo, described the committee's decision as 'perverse and undemocratic'.
"This committee have laid the seeds of change to disrupt a dispensing medical service that only a few months ago they declared to be in the best interests of the communities concerned," he said.
"This act may well, if an appeal is not sustained, cause more damage to community health care than any swine flu pandemic could ever possibly achieve.
"I hope that the anger and concern raised by this issue will cause NHS Fife to reconsider its position and ensure that the pharmacy committees are appropriately briefed to take into account both the realities of the effect on patients and their wishes regarding the dispensing services they receive.
"If that is done the decision to approve the Leuchars pharmacy cannot fail to be overturned."
It was Mr Kennedy who raised the Scottish E-Petition 1220 which resulted in a requirement for the public to be consulted on new applications from July 9.
Now he is to campaign for doctors to be considered as 'interested parties' when commercial pharmacies are being considered, which is not the case at the present.
The practice at the centre of the furore is that of Drs Bryan Johnston and Dr John Salamonski, who have surgeries in Leuchars and Balmullo.
They say that the income that's generated from dispensing prescriptions is re-invested in improving services and that the new pharmacy could lead to the closure of one or both of their surgeries.
North East Fife MP Sir Menzies Campbell and MSP Iain Smith expressed their dismay at the committee's decision, which comes as a review of pharmaceutical regulations is about to get underway, during which a moratorium on re-applications is likely to be considered.
"It is very surprising that an almost identical application to the one so recently rejected has been deemed as acceptable," they said in a joint statement.
"The decision will come as a considerable blow to the local community as the future of the doctors' surgery may now hang in the balance."
source: Fife Herald, Friday, August 20, 2009
By Liz Rougvie