Medical practice makes promise over allegations

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A medical practice has promised to address allegations that staff have been unethically directing patients towards a new pharmacy, part-owned by its doctors.

A number of Beacon Medical Practice patients have claimed they were persuaded to use a newly opened 100 hour pharmacy in Ingoldmells or a collection point in Chapel St Leonards, rather than their usual pharmacist - Wilson Sit.

During a public meeting held to discuss the new pharmacy’s impact on Mr Sit’s pharmacy, allegations were made that Beacon receptionists had attempted to persuade customers to use the new pharmacy by saying they would receive their medication quicker.

Others claimed to have been called repeatedly by staff at the pharmacy touting for business, without giving permission for their number to be distributed and yet more suggested patients were not being sufficiently informed of their options concerning which pharmacy they could use.

Beacon representatives appeared concerned to hear the accusations, which had previously been denied, and, if true, would constitute a breach of medical codes of practice.

Doctor Ojo, one of 10 Beacon GPs to have invested in the new facility, speaking at Chapel Village Hall on Thursday said: “If any of our staff were involved, we are very sorry, and anyone who is found responsible will be sanctioned.”

Further concerns centred on the ‘vested interest’ that doctors held in the pharmacy, which several patients felt resulted in an unfair playing field for competing pharmacies.

Dr Ojo conceded that the pharmacy, like any business, had to make money, but insisted that it was a completely separate company to the practice.

He also stressed that the primary motivation behind establishing the pharmacy was to improve the service to patients by opening for longer hours, which several of those at the meeting, including Skegness Hospital Watch’s Geoff Poulter, welcomed as enhancement.

Practice and pharmacy staff also criticised the leaflets which had been distributed urging people to save Mr Sit’s pharmacy, which they feared were ‘poisoning people’s minds’.

Mr Sit’s daughter Stephanie, who also works at the pharmacy said the leaflets had been created by patients and not the pharmacy staff and stressed there was no intention to close the rival pharmacy, merely inform patients that they had the freedom to choose which they used.