News that the go-ahead has been given for proposed pharmacies in Levenwick and Brae, within the existing health centres there, is to be welcomed. It makes great sense for people in these areas to visit the doctor and pick up their prescriptions conveniently.
However, confirmation by the Shetland Pharmacy Practices Committee to turn down a similar application from doctors in the Scalloway practice, and instead approve a new chemist shop in the centre of the village, makes little sense.
This committee is apparently a body made up of pharmacists, advisers and lay people, so it is difficult to understand why it should be so hell-bent on going against the wishes of the vast majority of people in the Scalloway community.
The legal position appears to be that the application from Norsepharm, which wishes to open a shop on Main Street, was received before that from the Scalloway doctors. But surely the views of those who will be using the pharmacy are more important than any kind of first-past-the-post system of decision-making. Hopefully the planned appeal by the disappointed applicants will be successful.
More shops for Scalloway would be fine but recent history suggests a lack of viability. Half a century ago the Main Street boasted around a dozen more, including chemists R & C Nicolson, bakers Mowat & Company and general merchants Nicolson & Company.
Scalloway has had a difficult time of late with the supposed consultative processes, both in the case of the secondary school closure and now the proposed pharmacy. Any such process, if it is to retain the faith of those involved, must be capable of influencing the outcome. This latest decision is hard to fathom.