Highlands & Islands

Pharmacy pilot project for the Western Isles

Image caption An aim of the pilot project will to provide care to patients with long term conditions

People on the Western Isles are to be given greater access to pharmaceutical care, the Scottish government has said.

A new £62,000, one-year pilot project will involve a pharmacist working with GP practices covering Lewis, Harris, the Uists and Barra.

GPs at the practices already dispense medication.

A key focus of the pilot will be the care of patients with long-term conditions, or those who need a variety of different medications.

There are only three community pharmacies on the isles and all are located in, or near, Stornoway.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said: "It is expected this pilot project will make a big difference to those people living in the Western Isles without access to a pharmacist.

"Often people may have questions about their medication but they feel reluctant to 'bother' their doctor.

"By introducing pharmacist support in this way, patients will have access to clinical advice and support from a pharmacist as part of the wider practice team."

Refused permission

NHS Western Isles chief executive Gordon Jamieson said pharmacists and pharmaceutical care was "a key component of safe and effective healthcare".

He said: "Here in the Western Isles, dispensing doctors also play an essential role in the dispensing and supply of medicines to patients in rural communities.

"Going forward, pharmaceutical care provision should complement and support dispensing doctors' services and their patients."

Mr Jamieson added: "I very much welcome and appreciate this initiative and look forward to the delivery of successful outcomes and an enhanced patient experience."

Last year, a pharmacies company was refused permission to open the first chemists on Benbecula.

The isles' pharmacies practices committee agreed unanimously to refuse the application to set up a premises in Balivanich.

Committee members said they had not been convinced by Local Pharmacies Limited's case for the chemists.

Local GPs who receive funding to dispense medication had opposed the application.

The doctors, and other opponents of the bid, said this service would end if a chemists opened and leave some people with 60-mile (96km) round trips to collect prescriptions.

Island councillor Uisdean Robertson said it would be unacceptable for patients to make long trips to pick up medication.

Local Pharmacies Limited said it had identified public support for a chemists.

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