The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has called on the Scottish government to end unnecessary pharmacy closures and introduce emergency regulations to force companies that operate Scotland’s pharmacies to open on the days and hours they have agreed.
It is concerned that decisions made by some health boards in Scotland have now allowed pharmacy owners to close their pharmacies on Saturdays.
The PDA is worried that a pharmacy closure could have negative impact on patients and other parts of the NHS, including neighbouring pharmacies, addiction and mental health services, and minor injury and A&E units.
The association claims that there are record numbers of registered pharmacists who are available to work and therefore a decision to close a pharmacy over staff shortages is misleading.
“The business owners may claim there is a shortage of pharmacists, but when they actively cancel agreed hours of work it does not suggest there is a shortfall of workers,” said the PDA, adding: “These business decisions often include closing their pharmacies at very short notice, even when pharmacists are available and willing to work.”
The PDA points out that every time a pharmacy is unnecessarily closed it means that patients and carers have severe difficulties in accessing the critical medicines and services they need.
“Often the only way a patient can then resolve their situation is to add to the already high levels of strain and workload on other parts of the health system.
“Recent decisions made by some Health Boards have invited private business owners to close their pharmacies when they wish to on Saturdays in July and August, this has invited commercial managers headquartered outside Scotland to make decisions on closure which may overrule their own pharmacists.”