Shetland MSP Tavish Scott is to press health minister Shona Robison to intervene in the row over the future of pharmarcy provision in Scalloway.
He will meet the minister to seek her help in persuading NHS Shetland to consider together the two applications it has received to open community pharmacies in the village. At present the board is insisting it can only deal with them consecutively, meaning that if it were to accept the first, from Norsepharm Ltd., the future of the GP practice itself could be placed in jeopardy.
The second application is from Melby Health Ltd and this pharmacy would operate from the surgery premises, supporting its continued operation.
Last August Mr Scott asked Ms Robison whether there was any reason why the two applications could not be considered together. The minister replied saying that the regulations did not require the applications to be considered separately.
However, when this advice was put to NHS Shetland, it said that established practice was to consider applications separately.
Mr Scott said today that when he then asked the minister to re-assure NHS Shetland that considering the applications together would not leave it open to legal challenge, the minister’s reply was “fudged and she advised that she could not intervene in a board’s consideration of pharmacy applications”.
Mr Scott said: “This backtracking by the minister from her previous clear advice is frustrating and hard to understand. It makes simple common sense for the two applications to be considered together.
“That way the one that is found to be best for the community can be chosen. I am not asking the minister to step in and intervene in the actual consideration of the applications. But I am seeking her help and asking her to advise NHS Shetland on the process.
“We need her to repeat her advice that the regulations which govern the process do not prohibit the sensible option of considering the applications together. I am sure that NHS Shetland want what is best for the community.
“I hope that a direct assurance from the minister that the regulations do not require separate consideration of the applications will give NHS Shetland the confidence to do what is best. That is to consider the applications together. At the meeting tomorrow, I will ask the minister to give that assurance.”