GP says new pharmacy is fulfilling a need and refutes ‘unfair monopoly’ claims

Doctors financing a new 100-hour pharmacy in Ingoldmells say it fulfils a genuine community need and have refuted claims they are improperly directing patients toward it for personal gain.

Partners at the Beacon Medical Practice established the new pharmacy at their Ingoldmells surgery around three weeks ago with a collection point at the Chapel St Leonards branch.

Doctor Oluropo Ojo said the previous pharmacy service in the area was ‘grossly inadequate’ and felt there was a genuine need for longer opening hours to dispense drugs in the evening and weekends.

Pharmacy manager Dave Spencer explained: “There was an opportunity in this area for us to improve the service.”

However Chapel St Leonards based pharmacist Julian Sit fears doctors at the practice are directing patients to use the new pharmacy, which he argues would breach medical ethics if true.

He feels it improper for GPs to have a commercial interest in where their patients receive medication as their highly esteemed social standing could easily influence patient choice.

“It’s like a licence to print money,” he said.

Other pharmacists have expressed similar concerns but did not wish to be named.

Mr Sit is also concerned that patients using the Chapel St Leonards collection point will receive an inferior service to that offered by a fully-fledged pharmacy as it is not staffed by a trained pharmacist, who would be able to issue advice.

Dr Ojo has strongly refuted any accusations that he or his colleagues have been directing patients to use the new pharmacy, which he said were ‘very upsetting’ and ‘totally unfounded’.

He claims that Mr Sit and other pharmacists in the area had been ‘shortchanging’ their customers by refusing to open longer and that was why partners at the practice felt compelled to open the 100-hour pharmacy themselves.

He said: “The idea we would be naive enough to direct patients is totally unfounded.

“None of the partners or staff are involved with that in any shape or form.”