First Benbecula pharmacy plan rejected

Plans for a first chemist on Benbecula have been rejected. Picture: Jane Barlow
Plans for a first chemist on Benbecula have been rejected. Picture: Jane Barlow
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A BID to open the first chemists on Benbecula, in the Western Isles, has been refused.

The isles’ pharmacies practices committee has agreed unanimously to reject the application to set up a premises in Balivanich.

It was a move local doctors feared would lead to job losses.

Committee members said they had not been convinced by Local Pharmacies Limited’s case for the chemists.

Local GPs, who receive funding to dispense medication, had opposed the application, claiming this service would end if a chemists opened, leaving some people with 60-mile round trips to collect prescriptions.

Highland and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said “This decision follows a community campaign that sought answers to the many questions the application posed and where the communities sought to defend their current health services.

“I am also pleased that sustainability of the pharmacy was one the reasons for rejection which will hopefully discourage future speculative applications.”

Her colleague, MSP David Stewart said “I met with the Cabinet Secretary and raised with him the concerns of the community.

“I hope he will now bring forward, as a matter of urgency, the new regulations for community pharmacies to ensure that no other community is faced with the uncertainty these applications cause where there are dispensing Gps.

“This is a victory for community campaigners who have shown that common sense and determination can win the day.”

Local Pharmacies Limited said it had identified public support for a chemists.

The Western Isles committee’s decision has emerged following a meeting of about 500 people to discuss plans for a new pharmacy in Castletown in Caithness.

Organised by the local community council, it heard concerns that a chemists would impact on the viability of Canisby and Castletown GP practice.

NHS Highland has sought to reassure people that the services provided by doctors would continue.