A PHARMACY is taking a Scottish health board to court as the row over who dispenses medicines in rural communities takes a turn.

It is the latest development in a long-running saga about whether the local GPs in Tarves, Aberdeenshire, should continue to hand over the drugs they prescribe.

Under current regulations doctors are barred from running their own in-house drug dispensary in areas where pharmacies are available. Community Pharmacy Scotland say health boards have a duty to provide a full pharmaceutical care service where it is viable.

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But the loss of the drugs service and the income it provides has led some GPs to leave or surgeries to close.

In Tarves the surgery run by Haddo Medical Group shut after it lost most of its dispensing rights, but NHS Grampian launched a review of the situation and ultimately allowed them to dispense more widely again. This prompted the surgery to re-open last year.

Now Tarves Pharmacy is seeking a judicial review of NHS Grampian's decision to let the Haddo Medical Group carry on dispensing drugs.

A spokesman for Tarves Pharmacy said: "This decision, which was taken at a meeting behind closed doors and which had no input from community pharmacy, was contrary to an earlier decision taken by NHS Grampian's own expert committee which had been asked to conduct an extensive review.

"The decision taken by NHS Grampian also appears to run contrary to the way in which the regulations have been interpreted throughout Scotland on numerous other similar occasions."

Chris York, who was part of the campaign to keep Tarves surgery open, said: "As a community we managed to get NHS Grampian to review their decisions about GP dispensing and the board made a clear democratic decision in favour of the community needs - it's what the public sector aspires to: evidence-based decision making. We had the support of elected politicians at every level, including our local MSP Alex Salmond, and we worked hard to demonstrate the needs and wishes of patients.""