Shock at Doctors Dispensing move.

Tarves surgery Closure threat.

Three Aberdeenshire Community Councils have expressed shock at a decision of Grampian Health Board that puts local GP surgeries at threat of closure. NHS Grampian have agreed to the withdrawal of dispensing services from Haddo Group surgeries at Pitmedden (Udny) and Tarves following a review after complaints from a new pharmacy connected to Greenock Chemist, James Semple.

Representatives from Udny, Tarves and Methlick Community Councils met in Methlick’s Beaton Hall to discuss the implications of the withdrawing dispensing at local surgeries.

As a result, the Community Councils are to seek legal advice on the decision and write to Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon asking her to intervene because the decision is “perverse” and against the best interests of patients and the NHS as indicated by vast majority of responses by local people to an NHS Consultation.

The meeting came in response to Grampian Health Board’s own meeting on April 3rd where they considered a report of the special review body set up to hear the complaint by a pharmacy connected with James Semple, who has created controversy by targeting dispensing GP Practices in order to open new commercial Pharmacies which attract substantial subsidies.

The three Community Councils of Tarves, Methlick and Udny cover the Haddo Medical Group practice area. All three groups agreed that the decision of NHS Grampian was taken against the evidence that was submitted by a large number of local residents.

The Community Councils said that:

Firstly, the NHS Grampian decision did not fit the evidence.

It should have been clear that the ability to access pharmacy services, which was being decided by NHS Grampian, would be severely impaired if access to the prescribing medical services were reduced because of reducing the number of surgeries.

Secondly, The decision undermines the viability of surgeries and any further review of Primary Care will not change the viability.

The loss of the income was made clear in the report to the NHS Board by the Haddo Medical practice. It should have been clear that the only possible outcome of any proposed dispensing withdrawal was a reduction in income to the practice.

As the implications are to be examined in a further review of primary care then the original decision is flawed as it should not have been taken if the outcome was not considered at the same time.

The reduction in GP services should have been considered as a reduction in access to medicines and pharmacy services. Not to consider viability of GP services by removing dispensing was a failure to implement the spirit of the rules and a narrow interpretation of the letter.

Thirdly, the decision to remove dispensing, may be viewed as perverse, The Community Councils believe it is not the intention of either the regulations of Pharmacy services or the purpose of the health board to both reduce access to dispensing services , reduce access to GP services and increase costs to the NHS in the Haddo Medical Practice Area.

Finally, the decision of the NHS Board appears not competent in respect of Methlick surgery. The decision appears to allow Methlick surgery to continue to dispense medicines to Methlick residents.

However, the description of the area defined actually draws a line through the middle of Methlick village. The B9005 was described as the boundary and this means homes just 2 minutes from the surgery on the north side of the river in the middle of Methlick would not be allowed to get medicines and must go to the a Pharmacy at Ellon, Oldmeldrum Tarves or New Deer.

A further description of the Oldmeldrum to Methlick Road (B9170) as the boundary to the west, further divides the village of Methlick.

The only houses left to which the Haddo Medical Group can dispense medicine to are those in Homes near the School, and the Methlick wood development. The Community Council believe this to be insufficient to continue a viable dispensing service from Methlick surgery and therefore also places Methlick surgery in the possible position of closure.

The Community Councils illustrate the error as a lack of proper scrutiny of the decision process. There appears no justification or rational argument for the boundary decision. They describe the outcome as bizarre.

The Community Councils resolved to seek legal advice to look at the possibility of legal challenge or judicial review of the NHS Grampian decision.

They also resolved to write to the Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon and First Minister Salmond, the Constituency MSP. The Community Councils believe that the minister should intervene in the decision to set it aside on the basis of the perverse decision and the arguments set out by the Community Councils and vast majority of residents in all 3 areas.

For more information contact:

Robert Davidson, Tarves CC


Cllr Paul Johnston: Tel 07799-582879