Health officials have been urged to consider two pharmacy applications for Scalloway together, despite legal advice warning that they should be examined separately.
Over 250 people voiced unanimous opposition to plans for a new pharmacy at a highly-charged public meeting in the village hall last night. They were against proposals by recently-formed enterprise Norsepharm Ltd to develop a purpose-built pharmacy on Main Street near the Kiln Bar.
Many called for the Pharmacy Practices Committee – a body made up of pharmacists and advisers – to consider a separate application by doctors Paul and Philippa Veenhuisen of Melbyhealth Ltd alongside the Norsepharm plans when it meets to decide on the project later this month.
The pleas were made amid fears the Norsepharm business could threaten the future viability of the Scalloway surgery if it is given the green light before any alternatives can be considered. A third of the health centre’s annual income – around £150,000 – comes from dispensing medicines. The Melby application is seen as being more attractive because it promises to feed profits back into the medical practice.
The meeting heard legal advice given to NHS Shetland said applications had to be considered individually. Because the Norsepharm application was made first, it had to be heard first by PPC members on 22nd February.
One audience member said email correspondence from MSP Tavish Scott had indicated the two proposals could be considered together after all.
NHS Shetland chief executive Ralph Roberts said he did not wish to leave the board open to legal proceedings if it went against legal advice.
Director of clinical services, Simon Boker-Ingram, said comparisons with three practices on the mainland had shown services would not suffer. However, audience members were dismayed after hearing neither doctors nor the community could take part in an appeals process. The comments from the floor will go before the independent committee.