Pharmacies

On Tuesday evening, 100 people attended a public meeting in Partridge Green Village Hall to voice their concerns over an application for a pharmacy in the village.

On the face of it, this sounds like a good idea for a village that doesn't already have a pharmacy.  But the local community is concerned that a new facility could come at a high price.

There are two GP surgeries in Partridge Green, Oakleigh and Woodlawn.  Both generate some of their income by dispensing medicines to patients.

Local GPs are warning that the opening of a pharmacy will threaten the economic viability of the two surgeries, which might then have to close.

GPs only administer about 7 per cent of prescriptions in England, but often surgeries rely on the income from dispensing medicines, both to maintain their practice and invest in new facilities and services for patients.

The closure of local surgeries would mean patients having to travel further, perhaps to Cowfold or Henfield, to see their GP.

Furthermore, it seems that a new pharmacy will offer little more than is already being provided by the surgeries themselves.  So I have written to the local NHS to ask that they listen very carefully to the views being expressed by patients and GPs.

These issues feature in the Government's new White Paper on pharmacies, which aims to give them a wider role in providing advice and treatment to patients.

There is much to welcome in the proposals.  But as GPs from across my constituency are telling me, changes to the contractual arrangements for dispensing medicines could disadvantage many rural surgeries.

I sometimes wonder if such tight regulation of where pharmacies may be located is actually beneficial to the consumer, but where controls exist we must make sure that they don't result in the reduction of GP services which are valued by the local community.

Michelle Taylor