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NHS Community Pharmacy in Woolavington

NHS England invited the observations of the Parish Council on an application made to them by Magna Healthcare for a licence to open an NHS community pharmacy in Woolavington. 

The location is given as in the vicinity of the existing Co-op store at Windmill Crescent (it could be in the shop to be vacated when the Co-op relocates to the Prince of Wales or the adjoining former doctor’s surgery which recently obtained planning permission for a fish and chip shop). It is stated that the premises are not finalised yet.

The Polden Medical Practice operates dispensaries in their surgeries but the nearest community pharmacies are in Bridgwater.

A community pharmacy is registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council and is run by a pharmacist who is registered with the GPC. As well as dispensing prescription-only medicines for patients of any surgery, community pharmacies can also:

Sell “over the counter” medicines, include those which can only be sold under the supervision of a pharmacist
Provide emergency supplies of repeat medication when a patient is unable to get a prescription, for example when a surgery is closed
Provide expert professional advice about medicines
Provide a number of other services, such as advice on treating minor illnesses, without the need for an appointment.

Dispensaries can only dispense prescription-only medicines to patients of that surgery.

Proposed core opening hours total 53.5 per week and total proposed opening hours total 60.5.

A number of health service benefits are listed such as free blood pressure checks, free blood sugar checks, flu vaccinations, weight loss advice and intervention, NHS alcohol intervention service and smoking cessation.

Factors to be taken into consideration by NHS England when considering the application will be whether there are 2750 people living within 1 mile of the proposed site (the number needed for a viable pharmacy) and the accessibility of current providers of pharmaceutical services including the accessibility of community pharmacies in Bridgwater (on foot, by car or bus)

The Parish Council considered the matter at their meeting held on 13th December.

Dr Andrew Rowling of the Polden Medical Practice spoke against the proposal and stated that the Practice was looking to provide a pharmacy attached to the surgery.

Mrs Jacqui Longman, Chairman of the Polden Medical Practice Patients' Participation Group mentioned the implications to patients of the Practice and the potential consequences to services provided if the application was granted.

After a discussion, the Council recognised that there was a need for a pharmacy in Woolavington but felt strongly that it would be preferable, if an application was made quickly, for a pharmacy to be located at Woolavington Surgery in Higher Road where it could be better integrated with existing services This would avoid the negative impact which would be experienced by existing patients having to visit separate locations, some distance apart, to obtain a prescription and acquire their medication.