Dispensers face pharmacy threat despite public outcry

Dispensing Call for 'time bar' after rejected pharmacy bids.

Dispensing practices in Fife are battling an application to open a new pharmacy, weeks after defeating a near identical bid.

Glasgow-based Levenbrae Ltd applied to open a pharmacy in the village of Leuchars last year. Such a move could have forced local practices to quit dispensing.

But Fife health board received more than 150 letters and a 2,000-signature petition urging it to turn down the application. It did so, on the grounds that the proposed premises - a former post office - were unsuitable.

Just three weeks later, however, a second bid has materialised, proposing the same site.

The Dundee Courier reported that the second bid comes from Fraser McPherson and Partners, which has the same registered address as Levenbrae in Greenock. GP was unable to find a firm of that name listed at Companies House, or any web presence for it.

Gordon Dykes, who acted as an agent for Levenbrae during its bid, said there was no connection between the two firms. 'When there was another application, I was as surprised as the next man,' he said.

He said Fraser McPherson might have seen an opportunity after Levenbrae's bid failed.

Alan Kennedy, a patient in Leuchars who campaigned against the new pharmacy, described the fresh bid as 'a complete waste of public money'.

'If the board views it with the same attention to detail as it did the first one,' he said, 'surely it'll come to the same conclusion.'

North East Fife Iain Smith MSP has called for pharmacy regulations to set a 'time bar on reapplication when an application fails'.

He told the Scottish parliament: 'It seems bizarre that a community can campaign successfully... and be left having to start the process again from scratch just a couple of weeks after a national appeal was rejected.'

Scottish public health minister Shona Robison said a time bar would be considered in a review later this year.

From 1 July, new rules will require health boards to take account of public opinion when considering pharmacy bids.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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