Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has called on the Cabinet Secretary, Alex Neil, to sanction a moratorium on community pharmacy applications.
The Scottish Government commissioned a report in 2011 into pharmaceutical care of patients in the community. The review entitled “NHS Pharmaceutical Care of Patients in the Community in Scotland” has recently been presented to the Scottish Government and one of it’s key recommendations is that GP services in rural areas should not be destabilised by the introduction of community pharmacies. Concerns are high in the Western Isles that dispensing GP practices could suffer a diminution in services and a wider knock-on effect on existing health services within island communities could ensue if planning is granted for community pharmacies in Benbecula and Tarbert. The Pharmacy Practices Committee is due to meet at the end of September.
During Health Questions today, Mrs Grant asked the Cabinet Secretary to sanction a moratorium until the government reports on the review.
Rhoda Grant said “The Cabinet Secretary advised me that he is not legally able to sanction a moratorium. This is extremely worrying as I believe the granting of applications in Benbecula and Tarbert have the potential to be very damaging to the communities involved. Mr Neil does however intend to carry out a review of the process of community pharmacy licence applications.
Mrs Grant continued “The Cabinet Secretary needs to send a strong signal to Health Boards that they should not respond to community pharmacy applications until he reviews the current process in place. While I am disappointed that a complete halt of applications cannot be sanctioned, I do welcome the fact that the process is to be reviewed.”