Mr Ali Mustafa Kermali has won his appeal to open a new pharmacy in Ash. His initial application was rejected by NHS England. His appeal was supported by local residents who gave their views on their recent experience of pharmaceutical services in the area.
Although a licence has now been granted, a suitable premise must now be found. There is no advertised date of when this pharmacy is to be opened, however, the granted application will expire if not used.
Ash Parish News has been informed by Mr Kermali that the new pharmacy is intended to be located between Ash Station and the pinewood road junction with Guildford Road.
Local Council challenges Pharmacy chain
Ash Parish Council (APC) raised its concerns in June 2022, following complaints surrounding the current service in the area. The letter to the managing director of Lloyds Pharmacy explained that “The service provided at this branch has in recent years slowly deteriorated “ and that the “inability to access an adequate service is causing a great deal of anguish and upset in the village”.
Lloyds Pharmacy responded to the Council’s letter stating “We understand that the current situation is inconvenient for our customers, and we apologise for the difficulties this has caused”. Lloyds Pharmacy went on to explain that the reason for these issues is that “key full-time members of staff working at the branch left the organisation, and whilst we have been recruiting the new team, we have been relying on locums to cover the shortfall”.
Lloyds Pharmacy also cited that this issue is not unique to Ash as the “shortage of pharmacists and qualified support staff” is a “UK-wide issue”. This is evidenced by the role of pharmacists being added to the Home Office’s Shortage Occupation List.
The Council also raised the issue of a lack of pharmacists with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and said that the “current level of pharmacy care being provided in both the Parishes of Ash and neighbouring Tongham is wholly inadequate”. In the letter, he stressed that the population of Ash and Tongham is expanding, and that “planning permission has already been granted for an additional 1800 plus dwellings”.
Why Ash & Tongham needs more Pharmacies
The NHS is currently advocating that residents should visit their local pharmacist first for minor health issues to relieve pressure on the NHS. Ash has been identified as an area of social deprivation, with many elderly and vulnerable residents. These residents in particular may have no other means and cannot visit Pharmacists in the neighbouring county, some miles away.
Whilst some may comment that there are pharmacies within 3 miles (Northcamp & Northtown). They must also consider the cost-of-living crisis and the increasing cost of fuel. With this in mind, such a flippant remark is particularly galling as travelling into Hampshire is simply not an option for all. At a national level, the government’s agenda is for people to have less reliance on cars and to walk or use more environmentally modes of transport to access local facilities. In Ash, there are commercial units currently vacant and a strong requirement for additional pharmacies.
Who regulates Pharmacies?
The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) are an organisation which regulates pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in the United Kingdom. They set standards, hold a register, quality assure education and investigate complaints. Trained Pharmacists who wish to open a new Pharmacy must also apply to the GPhC before they may operate, and may be refused.
Residents on social media have encouraged customers to report a concern to the GPhC to highlight the issue of a lack of pharmacies in operation within Ash. The GPhC has yet to comment publicly on this matter.
What is the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS)
The EPS allows prescribers to send prescriptions electronically to a dispenser (such as a pharmacy) of the patient’s choice. This makes the prescribing and dispensing process more efficient and convenient for patients and staff. The benefits of EPS are that:
- prescribers can process prescriptions more efficiently and spend less time dealing with prescription queries
- dispensers can reduce the use of paper, have improved stock control, and provide a more efficient service to patients
- patients can collect repeat prescriptions from a pharmacy without visiting their GP, and won’t have a paper prescription to lose
- patients can go into any pharmacy with their NHS number and get their prescription filled
To find out about the benefits of EPS visit https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/prescriptions-and-pharmacies/electronic-prescriptions