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Independent's fight to open pharmacy on Dorset island for ‘beleaguered’ residents continues

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Independent's fight to open pharmacy on Dorset island for ‘beleaguered’ residents continues

An independent pharmacist who has struggled to secure support from local NHS organisations to open a pharmacy on the Dorset island of Portland, leaving its 13,500 residents with just one pharmacy, has said he is unlikely to ever secure a contract to provide pharmaceutical services to its “beleaguered” residents.

Stephen McGonigle, who works in south and west Dorset, decided to try and open a pharmacy after the closure of a Boots branch at Fortuneswell in February left the island with just one other pharmacy in Easton.

According to the Dorset Echo, he submitted an application to NHS Dorset to open a pharmacy in Underhill in the north of Portland and identified premises at Portland Hospital. McGonigle was quoted as saying Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust, who run the hospital, came back to him with an annual rent offer of £126,000 which he said he could not afford and would leave him “working for free.”

However, the Trust’s chief executive Matthew Bryant told Independent Community Pharmacist it met McGonigle to talk about opening a pharmacy at the hospital but a final rent figure was not reached and claimed McGonigle has not come back to talk to them. Bryant insisted the Trust was “very supportive of” McGonigle’s “ideas.”

“Portland Hospital is an important asset for the local community and we are keen to develop services there which support the health, care and wellbeing of local residents,” Bryant said, insisting the Trust is “not involved with licensing new pharmacies.”

“No final figure was outlined for premises rental, though we would certainly be as flexible as possible about rent in a commercial situation. We have not been approached for further discussions about this, which is disappointing, but we remain keen to support this or any similar proposals to develop the hospital for benefit of the Portland community.” 

McGonigle, who is continuing his search for new premises on the island, said his application was supported by Public Health Dorset who agreed Portland needed two pharmacies.

“Given the current dire state of the negotiating committee for pharmaceutical contractors and the relentless workload, it looks increasingly unlikely I shall ever hold a contract to provide a pharmaceutical service to the beleaguered residents on the island of Portland, Dorset,” he told the Dorset Echo.

NHS Dorset: ICB is processing application and waiting for McGonigle to provide missing information 

A spokesperson for NHS Dorset told ICP that Dorset integrated care board is processing McGonigle's application and is waiting for him to provide some missing information before it can proceed.

"Dorset ICB is the decision-maker for such applications and it is not their role to support or provide guidance to individual applicants in making such applications. If they need guidance there are specialists who can provide them the support they need," the spokesperson said. 

"It is the role of the Health and Wellbeing Board (HWB) to identify gaps in the provision of pharmaceutical services in the pharmaceutical needs assessment (PNA). With the closure of the Boots pharmacy, the HWB will need to consider the PNA and whether this needs to be rewritten as a result of the closure.

"Pharmacy contractors make their applications to either meet a need that has been identified in the PNA or to meet a need they have identified that the PNA does not. This might be the case where a pharmacy closed after the PNA was published. The fact that a pharmacy has closed does not automatically mean a new pharmacy application should be granted."

ICP has contacted McGonigle for comment.

Pictured: Chesil Beach along Lyme Bay as seen from the heights of the Isle of Portland.

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