In the risk averse climate that has enveloped Britain’s public sector, the prospect of being sued acts as a mighty disincentive to the challenging of authority.
There is clearly confusion within the Scottish government about the nature of new regulations on pharmacy provision agreed in 2009, yet the Shetland pharmacy practices committee seems to have been persuaded that there is no ambiguity, given its decision last week to consider and approve an application to build a new pharmacy in the centre of Scalloway even though that is likely to have a negative impact on the GP practice in the village, to the obvious detriment of patients and the financial detriment of NHS Shetland itself.
Why? Because the regulations apparently insist on applications to open pharmacies being heard consecutively rather than concurrently. A first application, rather illogically, cannot be rejected on the basis that a subsequent one might be better – and have the support of the local community. The possibility and acceptance of inferior provision would seem to be enshrined in these regulations, which surely cannot be right.
It is disappointing that the committee did not challenge the regulations before making the decision. It is to be hoped that the government will look at them again.
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In a time of severe budget cuts, many ask why the council is spending so much money on the Tall Ships event in the summer. If research following the last event of its kind is anything to go by, it will more than pay for itself. It will be one of the bright spots on the summer calendar.