Council leader backs Rosewell Chemist bid

Friday, February 11, 2022

Written by local democracy journalist, Marie Sharp

People have to queue outside for up to an hour to collect prescriptions in a town in Midlothian, it has been claimed.

The leader of Midlothian Council has raised concerns about people’s ability to get their medicines back after a bid to open a new pharmacy in a nearby community was rejected.

And he asked health chiefs how he was supposed to tell people to go to a pharmacist instead of a doctor for advice if they couldn’t see one.

Councilor Derek Milligan told a Midlothian Integration Joint Board meeting that big pharma had “deployed” experienced lawyers to prevent a new pharmacy from opening in Rosewell.

Mr Milligan said the Lothian Pharmacy Practices Committee refused to approve the license after being told there were adequate arrangements in the nearby town of Bonnyrigg.

He was referring to a bid by Ashfaq Ahmed, who had been backed by MIdlothian and Musselburgh MSP Colin Beattie, local councilors and residents, to open in the new community center in Roswell.

Mr Milligan said: ‘There are queues of up to an hour outside existing pharmacies in Bonnyrigg.

“Decisions like this have a huge impact on our signage and on the public when we tell them to go see a pharmacist.

He told the meeting that he had seen “big corporations deploying their senior lawyers to try to prevent more pharmacies from opening.”

Mr Milligan said: ‘What should we do if we tell people not to go to their GP if it’s very minor and they can’t see a pharmacist or a GP.

He added: ‘Rosewell Pharmacy received massive support publicly and politically when it was turned down.

Integration Board Chief Officer Morag Barrow told the virtual meeting that she had had discussions with the Director of Pharmacies at NHS Lothian about the matter.

She said: ‘I share the concerns about how some of the smaller, more independent businesses might open pharmacies.

At his license application meeting in October, Mr Ahmed told the committee that there was no pharmacy in the village of Rosewell and the nearest was more than two miles away.

He added limited bus service and delays in collecting prescriptions made it a long journey for people.

He said: “For example, a bus leaving Rosewell at 9am will arrive in Bonnyrigg around 9.15am.

“With walking to pharmacies and waiting times for prescriptions, it is unlikely that a visit to the pharmacy can be made in time to catch the next bus.

“It is likely that the patient will take the next bus home at 10am.

“Add to that the average walking distance to a bus stop from a patient’s home and back, plus the waiting times for the bus, then the total journey time will exceed 90 minutes and could easily be more. long for the elderly or parents traveling with a pram.”

Jenny Long, Director of Primary Care, NHS Lothian, said: “An application for a new pharmacy in Rosewell was reviewed in October 2021 by the Pharmacy Practices Committee (PPC) in accordance with national guidelines.

“At that time, the PPC concluded that there was no evidence of insufficient pharmaceutical services provided in or to the defined ward, so the application was not granted.

“An appeal was lodged against this decision and the National Appeals Committee upheld the decision of the CPP as it found no reasonable grounds for appeal.”


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