The move to set up pharmacies within health centres in the North and South Mainland is gathering pace with the announcement that public meetings will be held in Levenwick and Brae in May.In contrast to the position in Scalloway, where there are two competing applications to open a pharmacy, the areas of Levenwick and Brae only have one application each.
In Levenwick the application is from LP Health Ltd, whose directors are the Levenwick GPs Aileen Brown and Mark Maudsley.
In Brae it is from Deltingpharm, directed by Paul Scott, the lone GP at Brae Health Centre.
Once public opinion has been gauged, the proposals will go in June before the Pharmacy Practices Committee, a group composed of lay members of the public and representatives from pharmacies both in and outwith Shetland.
The next step would be for the proposals to get approval from the Pharmaceutical Society, after which the pharmacies could actually open.
The pharmacies would be commercial ventures and would be open five-and-a-half days a week, which would include some time on Saturdays.
They would offer over the counter medicines as well as a minor ailment service and public health services such as emergency contraception, which the public could access without making an appointment.
Unlike the current dispensaries at health centres, where staff have some training but do not have to be regulated, pharmacies would have to employ a pharmacist who would be regulated by the profession.
As commercial ventures the pharmacies would be able, if they wished, to sell a range of goods currently available at any typical chemist’s shop.
However employing a pharmacist, according to NHS Shetland director of pharmacy Chris Nicolson, is “very expensive” and would not leave a lot of profit for the pharmacy directors.