Community Pharmacies (Applications)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 8th May 2013.

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Photo of James Kelly James Kelly Labour

6. To ask the Scottish Government how it oversees the application process for community pharmacies. (S4O-02080)

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

In my reply to Mr Kelly in the chamber on 6 December last year, I indicated that the Scottish Government has no role in monitoring applications or appeals relating to the opening of a community pharmacy. Those are entirely matters for national health service boards and the national appeal panel, respectively.

However, the Scottish Government keeps under review the National Health Service (Pharmaceutical Services) (Scotland) Regulations 2009, as amended, which regulate the applications process. We propose to update in the near future the control-of-entry guidance that is issued to all NHS boards and contractors.

Photo of James Kelly James Kelly Labour

I thank the cabinet secretary for his reply, although I point out that it was the Minister for Public Health who answered on 6 December, not him.

I have written to the Minister for Public Health about a pharmacy application in Whitlawburn in my constituency, which has gone to the health board, has been referred to the national appeal panel and has gone back to the health board, where the latest hearing has been postponed. I have real concerns about the openness, fairness and transparency of those hearings, so I have written to the Minister for Public Health requesting a meeting. I ask that that meeting be facilitated.

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

I am aware of the application to which Mr Kelly refers. My understanding is that the issue is that there is sufficient local provision, which is why the application has to date been unsuccessful. However, I am absolutely sure that my colleague, the Minister for Public Health, would be more than happy to meet Mr Kelly to discuss his concerns about the process.

Photo of Roderick Campbell Roderick Campbell Scottish National Party

Would the cabinet secretary or the Government consider further amendment to the 2009 regulations or, alternatively, to the guidance notes in respect of providing a time limit for appeals?

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

Appeals can be complex and the complexities can vary from case to case, depending on the merits of individual cases. That is especially so where there is more than one interested party lodging an appeal, or there is new evidence to be considered.

I understand that the national appeal panel usually considers appeals in order of the date on which the chair receives them, and aims to consider appeals within three months of receiving all the relevant papers. It can sometimes take longer if several appeals are received around the same time. However, I will monitor the situation; if I believe that timescale is becoming an issue, I will be prepared to consider the matter.