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BMA chairman warns pharmacies threaten rural health services

A LEADING member of the British Medical Association (BMA) in Scotland has said health services in rural communities have been compromised by decisions to allow pharmacies on the doorsteps of GP practices.

The Scottish Government is currently reviewing the role of GP practices that also dispense medicines, but lose the ability to do so if a pharmacy moves into their community. Many argue the loss in income from losing the dispensary makes providing GP services in small communities impossible.

Dr Jennifer Foster, who has worked in Drymen for 20 years, announced this week she was quitting the village after a pharmacy application was approved in spite of a campaign opposed to it.

Dr Brian Keighley, chairman of BMA Scotland, said in a letter to The Herald that it was "difficult to fathom" why the Forth Valley Pharmacy Practices Committee had approved the Drymen and Aberfoyle pharmacy applications in the face of "widespread and articulate community opposition".

Sources within NHS Forth Valley have argued all new pharmacy applications have to be considered in line with national regulations. Rules state that dispensing services provided by a local GP practice cannot be taken into account.

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