Dispensing practice faces closure as new pharmacy bid accepted

A Scottish health board has granted an application for a pharmacy that could force an existing dispensing practice out of business - weeks after a near identical bid was rejected.

NHS Fife granted the application despite a public outcry over the previous application. If the pharmacy goes ahead, under Scottish laws the village of Leuchars' existing practice would be unable to continue dispensing, which would cut its income by more than half.

Dr David Alexander, chairman of Fife LMC, described it as ‘astonishing that it can do this when we've just been through the appeals process'.

Earlier this year, NHS Fife received more than 150 letters and a 2,000-signature petition opposing a proposal from Glasgow-based firm Levenbrae for a new pharmacy. It ultimately rejected the plan on the grounds that the proposed premises - a former post office - were unsuitable.

Just three weeks later, however, a fresh bid materialised from a second firm, Glasgow's Fraser, McPherson and Partners. Sources say that the bid was nearly identical to the first, but included a survey suggesting public support for the plan.

It had also included permission from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to use the building as a pharmacy.

Dr Bryan Johnston, a partner at the practice in Leuchars, said that the loss of dispensing would cut the practice income by 58%, and would likely mean losing one of its three doctors and a branch surgery.

Local doctors are considering lodging another appeal against the plans. If it is unsuccessful, the new pharmacy could be open by next summer.

A spokeswoman for NHS Fife said that, as the appeal process is still under way, ‘it would be wrong to make comment on why a new application from another company was approved.'

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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