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Sanction companies to end temporary pharmacy closures, PDA tells Scottish gov

The Scottish government must “introduce emergency regulations”, including financial sanctions, to force Scotland’s pharmacies to open according to their contracted hours and end “unnecessary closures”, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has urged.   

It comes as “some companies who operate Scottish pharmacies” appear to be making “commercial decisions based on profit”, the PDA claimed in a statement published yesterday (July 13).

These decisions – which may include closing pharmacies at very short notice – “seem to have taken no account of patient and community needs and ignore their contracted arrangements with NHS Scotland”, it added.

By introducing “emergency regulations”, the “for-profit companies that operate Scotland’s pharmacies” would be forced to open on their pre-agreed days and hours, the PDA said.

Failure to do so “should result in financial sanction where necessary on the business”, the PDA urged. The NHS should also be allowed to take over “failing pharmacies” and oversee their operations, the PDA argued.  

C+D has approached the Scottish government for comment.


Read more: Temporary closures: Scottish health boards should take over ‘failing pharmacies’, PDA suggests


The PDA’s calls for action follow months of mounting concerns over increasing reports of temporary pharmacy closures across Scotland.

In December, the PDA also called for health boards in Scotland to be given powers to “take over failing community pharmacies and absorb them into the NHS”, after its analysis found a “minimum of 574 [temporary pharmacy] closures” had occurred across the country in just three months.


Scottish government “generally on the side of Scotland’s patients”


The union does, however, acknowledge that the Scottish government and its NHS boards, “are generally on the side of Scotland’s patients and communities”, it wrote.

“To that end, they must all take necessary steps to ensure pharmacies remain open, when and where they are needed,” it added.


Read more: Scotland’s CPhO on ‘messy’ temporary pharmacy closures and building on COVID-19’s legacy


While pharmacy business owners “may claim there is a shortage of pharmacists”, the PDA argued, business decisions “often include closing their pharmacies at very short notice, even when pharmacists are available and willing to work”.

The PDA claimed that there have been instances where existing pharmacy staff “have been redeployed elsewhere” and “locum pharmacists have had their bookings cancelled”.


PDA: Decisions made by commercial managers outside Scotland


The union also claimed that some health boards have given private business owners the option “to close their pharmacies when they wish to on Saturdays in July and August”.

This has allowed commercial managers “headquartered outside Scotland” to make decisions on pharmacies’ closures, with the potential to “overrule” the operational decisions made by the in-branch pharmacist, the PDA claimed.


Read more: Locum demand and rates ‘issue’ not isolated to pharmacy, says Maria Caulfield


Earlier this week, two locum pharmacists – Tohidul Islam and Paul Summerfield – launched Schedule Four Consultancy, a company to help locums and employed pharmacists buy their own pharmacy in a bid to combat temporary closures.


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