NHS Shetland urged to hear Scalloway pharmacy applications together

The two applications made to open a pharmacy in Scalloway should be assessed at the same time and not one after the other, according to isles MSP Tavish Scott.

Under current rules the plans put forward by private firm Norsepharm for new shop premises in the village will be heard by NHS Shetland before those of the Scalloway GPs’ practice, which claims it will not be able to continue to function if the rival bid is successful.

Mr Scott said the Scottish government had told him there was no legal requirement for the applications to be heard in the order they were submitted, although NHS Shetland said it coulc be open to legal action if it did not act in this fashion.

Mr Scott has written again to health minister Shona Robison and asking her to provide reassurance to NHS Shetland that it can consider the applications together.

Mr Scott said: “It is very much in the interest of the Scalloway community for both applications to be considered before a choice is made. I want NHS Shetland to decide which is the best chemist for local people, and to take this decision without the threat of legal action.

“It would seem to be crazy to accept the first application, without investigating whether the second one would be better. And it would be equally unwise to reject the first, in the hope that the second was better, only to find out that it isn’t. That is why NHS Shetland must be allowed to consider the applications together and why I want the government to help in avoiding the risk of a credible judicial challenge. This is a big decision for Scalloway and I want to ensure that our local health board can take all factors into account. That means considering both applications to run a chemist in Scalloway at the same time.”


Add Your Comment
  • James Semple

    • October 19th, 2010 19:30

    The Scottish Government is currently consulting on amendments to the (Pharmacy) Control of Entry Regulations. One of the issues being considered is whether NHS Boards can hear multiple applications for the same neighbourhood at the same time, as opposed to hearing them in order of receipt – as has been the convention for many years.
    Any changes to the existing regulations will be published soon, and it will be interesting to see if this is one of them.
    If it is then the NHS should expect a massive increase in the number of applications made – with a corresponding increase in cost – since every application will be repeated by a host of other pharmacy operators keen to join the ‘Beauty Parade’.
    Of course since most applications pit pharmacist against pharmacist there is unlikely to be much interest from local politicians. It is only when Dispensing Doctors are involved that they seem to develop an interest in this area. No doubt local opinion – drummed up by (financially interested) local GPs – has something to do with it…

  • James Semple

    • October 21st, 2010 0:27

    Further to my previous comment, the Scottish Government have now published their proposed amendments to the regulations.
    Most of the changes are sensible, and will be welcomed by stakeholders. (Dispensing Doctors and their BMA union reps may claim some sort of success, but they’re kidding themselves on…)
    As I suspected, Mr Scott’s suggestion that multiple applications should be considered at the same time is not one of the proposed amendments.


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