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Review of pharmacy regulations needed after GP practices made ‘unviable’, says minister

Scottish health minister Alex Neil said that a complete review of pharmacy applications is needed as rural GP practices are under threat.

He said that the rules made some local dispensing practices ‘unviable’ and that ‘bad decisions’ have been made to allow in new pharmacies.

Mr Neil told the annual LMCs conference in Scotland that he set up the Scottish Government’s review of the control of entry regulations for pharmacy after seeing GP practices suffer.

Questioned about the issue by LMCs after addressing the conference, Mr Neil said: ‘I set up the review partly because of the total lack of public involvement in any decision making or any voice for the community in the process of applying for a pharmacy.’

Mr Neil said he hoped to make an announcement at ‘the end of April or beginning of May’ and although it would then take over a month to pass legislation, the move to tighten up the regulations was a ‘priority’.

LMC leaders later passed a motion backing Mr Neil’s review and ‘reinforcing support for dispensing practices who are under renewed and sustained threat from commercial pharmacies where the loss of a dispensing practice would lead to markedly poorer general practice provision’.

They also condemned the ‘opportunism and cost to health boards of speculative applications attempting to beat the proposed moratorium’, after reports of pharmacies deliberately putting in applications ahead of the review.