Town is set to lose Sunday pharmacies

PUBLISHED: 12:33 23 June 2006 | UPDATED: 21:57 28 May 2010

MARCH could lose its Sunday and Bank Holiday pharmacy rota service, forcing people to travel for emergency prescriptions or to rely on out-of-hours doctor services. One pharmacy has already pulled out and a health chief believes it is the beginning of the

MARCH could lose its Sunday and Bank Holiday pharmacy rota service, forcing people to travel for emergency prescriptions or to rely on out-of-hours doctor services.

One pharmacy has already pulled out and a health chief believes it is the beginning of the end of the current system.

Selby and Taylor is the first March chemist to opt out of the arrangement which sees pharmacies open for an hour on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Boots the Chemist and Lloyds Pharmacy will now have to share the responsibility. How long they will continue the service is unclear.

The service has never been compulsory but last year new community pharmacy contracts were brought in and arrangements were reviewed.

In Wisbech half the pharmacies do not want to be included on the rota. It could be a bitter pill to swallow for those without transport and in an area without supermarket pharmacies.

Ron Smith, director of prescribing for East Cambs and Fenland Primary Care Trust, said pharmacists were opting out because of the cost and the disruption to their social and personal time.

"Yes, I think it probably is the beginning of the demise of the pharmacy rota arrangements," he said. "It is a trend which is happening nationally. Rota arrangements are becoming less the norm than they used to be.

"If no-one is prepared to provide the service then the alternative is to travel elsewhere."

He said some pharmacies reported doing little business during the extra opening times with some people turning up to collect prescriptions issued several days before.

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