MSPS call for rural dispensing unit confirmation

Mairi Evans and Gillian Martin
Mairi Evans and Gillian Martin

North east MSPs Mairi Evans and Gillian Martin have called on NHS Grampian to confirm the retention of community dispensing units at Auchenblae and Udny.

NHS Grampian will put forward a recommendation to the NHS board on Thursday to keep the crucial community pharmacies at Auchenblae and Udny after viability study into the usage of six dispensing units across the region.

And while services at Auchenblae, Rhynie and Udny could be retained under the plans, Portlethen and Skene’s dispensing units are recommended for closure with no decision taken on Gardenstown.

Around 1,300 people responded to a public consultation on the changes with 200 attending public drop-in sessions and there was an overwhelming desire to retain the service within rural villages such as Auchenblae, Rhynie and Udny.

A total of 91.8% of respondents stated they would have a ‘serious difficulty’ in getting dispensed medicines from a community pharmacy.

Meanwhile, in Auchenblae 98.7% of respondents claimed they would struggle to obtain crucial medication due to ‘poor or non-existent’ public transport.

Both Evans, MSP for Angus North and Mearns and Aberdeenshire East’s Martin, believe the NHS recommendations must now be implemented.

Evans said: “The response from the people of Auchenblae was overwhelming. This is a very rural community with poor transport links and the dispensing unit is incredibly well used by local people.

“If the dispensing unit was to close, a late doctor’s appointment in Auchenblae could easily see a patient missing the chance to pick up crucial medicine on the same day at the nearest pharmacy in Laurencekirk.

“I have met regularly with constituents on this issue and lobbied NHS Grampian and I hope that the NHS board implement this decision on July 6th.”

Ms Martin said: “I was delighted with the recommendation to the board last week. There have been many meetings and a lot of hard work put into putting a case forward, both by myself and the Udny Community Council.

“Rural areas like this rely on services and provision locally, particularly the older community.”

By contrast, almost two-thirds of Skene respondents and 57.1% from Portlethen admitted the closure of their dispensing unit would not provide ‘serious difficulty’ in them obtaining medicine from a community pharmacy.