Leaflet sparks pharmacy fear

Date published: 30 May 2013

A COMMUNITY watchdog has written to a medical centre in support of local chemists following claims that doctors are promoting their own pharmacy to patients.

Saddleworth Medical Practice in Uppermill offered a new service as “Our Pharmacy” - in fact operated by a chemist in Oldham.

Concerned members of the 400-strong Greenfield and Grasscroft Residents’ Association has now unanimously agreed to support existing local pharmacies.

Before the meeting, the GGRA had written to the medical practice seeking clarification of its business arrangements after members had voiced concern over the wording of notices and handouts from the Smithy Lane practice.

Under the heading “Our Pharmacy”, the leaflet states: “Saddleworth Medical Practice now has a new business in partnership with a pharmacy to offer you a free delivery service of your medication.”

It lists an Oldham telephone number if patients have queries on delivery times or need to speak to a pharmacist for advice or questions.

GGRA chairman Andrew Taylor, himself a retired GP, said: “There was distaste by our members at the association of the practice with a distant pharmacy and pressure from practice staff to use the service. Deep concern was expressed about the effect on local pharmacies.”

Ian Short, chief officer of the Local Pharmaceutical Committee for Bury, Rochdale, Oldham and Glossop — an independent group whose focus is on community pharmacists, said: “Community pharmacy is a competitive market. Patients’ freedom to choose any pharmacy they like is a vital factor in driving up standards of care and service. Patients appear to be being misled into thinking they can no longer use their usual pharmacy. Patients can always choose which pharmacy to use.”

Partners at Saddleworth Medical Practice said in a statement: “Our Pharmacy has been set up purely to offer another choice for patients in how they may opt to receive their prescription medicines.

“Patients are offered all local pharmacies, including Our Pharmacy, as one of their choices and once they have opted for one there is no persuasion to try to make them move.

“We feel that choice sits at the very heart of all patient decisions for whatever treatment they need, be that medicines, referrals or investigations.”

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