Residents of Dalneigh, Inverness, have been waiting more than a year to hear if plans for a local pharmacy will be allowed to go ahead.
The application was submitted to the Highland Heath Board in March 2015, but it has been held up by a prolonged and complicated consultation and appeals from competitors.
Highland Liberal Democrats Cllr Alex Graham (Inverness West) and Scottish Parliament candidate Cllr Carolyn Caddick have now written to Scottish Health Minister Shona Robertson MSP calling for a review of the procedures involved in pharmacy applications
Dalneigh also missed out in 2013 when plans for a local pharmacy were rejected.
Mr Graham said: “A year has now passed since the application was lodged and still there is no outcome. That is unacceptable.
“This is an excessive delay in determining whether a community can have a pharmacy, all the more so when the case is so widely felt to be clear-cut and the community was denied a pharmacy back in 2013 when an earlier application was rejected.
“Dalneigh needs a pharmacy, and a pharmacy would be good for Dalneigh.”
Mrs Caddick said: “It is clear that there is a whole community without a pharmacy. The consultation process and subsequent appeal and delay could deter any reasonable pharmacy operator.
"I have also witnessed a delay of a year to the opening of the Milton of Leys Pharmacy due to this bureaucratic process. The pharmacy was initially turned down and it succeeded only due to the tenacity of the pharmacist who resubmitted his application with all that that entails.
"We also lost the opportunity to have a pharmacy in Cradlehall, when the original application was turned down but the applicant couldn't wait 12 months before reapplying, so the residents of Cradlehall and Westhill lost out.
“The way the consultation is currently carried out could also stifle local investment, and lead to considerable frustration for local residents.
“We hope that the Health Minister will appreciate the needs of the local communities and arrange a full review of the procedures which have clearly taken far too long for this Inverness community..”
Note for editors:
The timescale for events is as follows:
- 3 March 2015: Plans for pharmacy lodged with NHS Highland
- 8 July 2015: 3 month consultation closes
- July – November 2015: consultation process
- 19 November 2015: NHS Pharmacy Practices Committee hearing
- 8 December 2105: NHS Pharmacy Practices Committee finding announced
- 22 December 2015: decision appealed by a competitor
Appeals are forwarded to the National Appeal Panel in Edinburgh and they usually consider an appeal within three months.