New Pharmacy Services Delayed Until October

Isles of Scilly Health Centre

Isles of Scilly Health Centre

An odd quirk in the British health system has delayed the introduction of new pharmacy services at our islands’ Health Centre.

Building work has already been completed and the new pharmacy has relocated to a larger space with a separate entrance.

But plans to allow medicines to be dispensed when the centre is closed, due to be launched in June, will be delayed until October because the regulations don’t take into account Scilly’s unique situation.

It’s a real problem, said Cllr Richard McCarthy at yesterday’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, because a visitor or cruise ship passenger, for example, might need an emergency supply of insulin when the pharmacy is shut.

It’s all to do with the difference between a dispensary and a pharmacy.

Only a pharmacist can provide medicines from a registered pharmacy, not GP’s, and in Scilly, that means our only pharmacist would need to be on call 24-hours a day. On the mainland, you’d just look for the nearest emergency pharmacist.

And the rules say the GP’s wouldn’t be able to fill in.

It’s a highly unusual situation, because we’re the only place in the UK where the pharmacist, hospital, local GP’s and even the dentist all need to access the same stock of medicines.

And it’s meant the NHS has had to have high-level discussions to resolve it.

The outcome is that our pharmacy will need to be registered as a wholesaler, and supply medicine to other medical bodies on the islands, but the process takes three months to complete.

Lead GP, Dr John Garman said the new arrangements will actually have added benefits, because it means there’ll be less waste and duplication of medicines on the islands.

And he says there is no disruption to existing services during working hours, which are already up and running in the new pharmacy space.