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Second pharmacy to be reconsidered for town with 'inadequate' Lloydspharmacy

An application for a second pharmacy in a Fife town will this summer be reconsidered after controversy over an existing Lloydspharmacy in the area, C+D has learned.

The Scottish burgh, which has seen three applications for a second pharmacy rejected by a pharmacy practices committee (PPC) since 2008, most recently last year, will have another chance for a new chemist this summer.


Burntisland, which has a population of just over 6,000, currently houses one local Lloydspharmacy – which opposed the most recent application for a second pharmacy – according to the application documents.


But the “inadequate” service provided by the multiple was one of the major arguments advanced in favour of the new pharmacy by the applicant and the local community, according to the minutes of a PPC hearing held on May 30 2022.


Read more: Revealed: Locations of Lloydspharmacy branches bought by Rowlands


The PPC decided to reject the application by Mohammed Ameen in May last year, but an appeal against this decision put forward by Mr Ameen and the Burntisland Community Council was granted in a ruling on August 24.


Local Labour councillor Julie MacDougall told C+D last month (May 26) that NHS Fife has said that it expects a hearing to be “convened to consider Burntisland's application” at the end of this month or in July.



Lloydspharmacy “unable to cope with demand”


Lloydspharmacy and Omnicare Pharmacy – which is based in Aberdour and provides medicine delivery services in Burntisland – opposed Mr Ameen’s application, along with NHS Fife’s area pharmaceutical committee (APC), according to the May 2022 PPC minutes.


But in August, a national appeal panel decision report found that the PPC had failed to summarise the findings of a consultation assessing locals' views on the need for a second pharmacy.


The community council’s submission to the PPC – which supported the application – said that the second pharmacy was “not only desirable but essential”.


Read more: UPDATED: Lloydspharmacy: Kevin Birch steps back from operational role as CEO


It cited the consultation’s findings that “85% of respondents felt there were gaps/deficiencies on the existing provision of pharmaceutical services” in Burntisland, adding that waiting times were “unacceptable” and that the “existing pharmacy seemed unable to cope with demand”.


The appeal also found that the PPC had not given good reasons as to why it had come to the decision that Burntisland had an “adequate” service from the only pharmacy in town – the Lloydspharmacy branch.



"Reservations about level of service"



And it found that the PPC’s chair, who provided a deciding vote after the committee vote was tied, gave “no reasoned decision” for his conclusion that the existing pharmacy service was “adequate”.


The PPC chair had said that “he thought the current service was adequate but that the mechanism for providing it was not”, according to the hearing minutes.


Read more: PDA issues advice as Lloydspharmacy moves ahead with divestment process


He said that the service provided was “adequate under the legal test” but that the PPC had “reservations about the level of service” provided by Lloydspharmacy in Burntisland, the minutes said.


This explanation was treated with derision by the appeal panel, which asked “how a service can be considered to be functionally adequate if the mechanism for its delivery is not”.


Read more: UPDATED: Rowlands snaps up 30 Lloydspharmacy branches in Scotland


“Is a pizza delivery service adequate when a pizza is adequately produced, but inadequately delivered?” it asked. 


A spokesperson for Lloydspharmacy told C+D last week (May 31) that it will “review its position for a new contract application in the Burntisland area in advance of the next hearing and will seek to achieve an outcome that is in the best interests of the community”.



“Clear perception of bias”



Meanwhile, Mr Ameen and the community council had both raised concerns that a contractor pharmacist nominated by the Fife APC to sit on the PPC – Raymond Kelly – had a “conflict of interest” because he was also a member of the APC, the appeal document said.


PPCs contain two non-voting pharmacists nominated by the APC and three voting lay members, according to the regulations for Scotland’s pharmaceutical services legislation.


Read more: Scottish government provides £20m pharmacy ‘interim cash injection’


However, since the APC as an organisation had opposed Mr Ameen’s application and Mr Kelly had been copied into correspondence about this, the appeal ruled that this created a “clear perception of bias”.


Mr Kelly, a pharmacist of over 30 years’ experience, told C+D that it would be “wholly inappropriate for an individual APC member to comment” on the findings of the appeal panel.


A newly-constituted PPC – which “must contain no members” of the Fife APC – will now reconsider the application, according to the appeal decision report.



10-year campaign



Ms MacDougall told C+D that the community council had been campaigning for a second pharmacy for “over ten years”.


She and her fellow ward councillors were in support of the second pharmacy, as had been her predecessor on the council, she added.


And she said that there had also recently been “a lot of influx” of people into the town from a new housing scheme.


Read more: ‘Far short of what is needed’: CPS rejects government's 2023/24 funding offer


There is approximately one community pharmacy for every 4,300 people in Fife, according to C+D calculations based on data from NHS Fife and the National Records of Scotland.


A spokesperson for NHS Fife told C+D on Friday (June 2) that the PPC recommenced hearings on May 31, 2023.


“It remains our intention to hold a further hearing of the committee in the coming months, where we anticipate discussing the proposal for a new pharmacy in Burntisland,” they said.

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