Concerns about pharmacy raised with Health Minister

Concerns about plans for a dispensing pharmacy in Benbecula have been raised with the Health Minister.

Western Isles MSP Alasair Allan has contacted the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Alex Neil MSP to relay concerns in the community about the implications of a pharmacy on the island.

Alasdair Allan commented: “To the best of my knowledge, no formal application has been received as yet for a new pharmacy in Benbecula. However, if the application is submitted, the regulations which govern this process commit NHS Western Isles to a 60 day public consultation before a decision can be made.

“Many constituents have contacted me on this issue and highlighted serious concerns over the prospect of this, or any, community pharmacy application succeeding. Views expressed have included questions about what the consequences would be for the local GP practice, which provides cover for the Uist and Barra Hospital, among other services.

I will certainly represent these views in my own submission to the public consultation, and would urge everyone with concerns to do likewise.

“In order to get clarity on this, I have raised the issue with the Cabinet Secretary for Health and await his response.”

Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil has also contacted Mr Neil and written to Gordon Jamieson, Chief Executive of NHS Western Isles on the issue.

Mr MacNeil said: “I have spoken to people in the community who are very concerned that if this application is successful, patients would have to make a 20-60 mile trip for medication. This would place an additional burden on the elderly and ill and indeed on all families, particularly with the high cost of fuel.

“I have written to Gordon Jamieson, Chief Executive of NHS Western Isles, to ask that the wider implications on the hospital in Benbecula and GP services be looked at first, prior to approving this application and that the GP dispensary service is protected.

“I have also written to the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Alex Neil MSP, to ask that he considers changes in the law to give rural GP practices the type of protection they have in England. I understand from talking to Alex Neil that he is sympathetic to this. We must ensure that Pharmaceutical Services Regulations are there to serve the public and health needs first and particularly dispensing medical practices in rural areas, when uncoordinated business pharmacies propose to open in these areas.”