Controversy over GP pharmacy plan

PLANS by a town GP surgery to extend its premises to open a pharmacy has drawn opposition from patients and neighbours, particularly over its proposed longer opening hours.

The scheme put forward by partners in Sleaford Medical Practice would see the Riverside Surgery on Boston Road extended at the building’s main entrance.

A new doorway would take visitors directly into the surgery with new double doors providing access to a pharmacy with an entrance porch providing shelter.

According to the planning application, the pharmacy, creating two new jobs, would be open during normal surgery opening hours (8am-6.30pm on Mondays and Fridays and 8am-8pm Tuesday to Thursday) to enable patients to immediately pick up their prescriptions following a doctor’s consultation. In addition the proposed pharmacy would be open outside surgery hours via a serving hatch located in the front entrance porch.

According to NHS Lincolnshire PCT, the surgery has successfully applied for the pharmacy to be open for 100 hours over six days a week from 7am to midnight Monday to Friday and 9am to midnight Saturday. This is to overcome a government ruling that prevents more pharmacies opening when they are not needed unless they open for 100 hours to provide an extended service.

In addition, the car park would be reconfigured to increase the number of spaces from 18 to 23.

The proposed opening times were confirmed by a spokesperson at Sleaford Medical Group, who said: “The proposed pharmacy opening hours are 100 hours per week. We have provided North Kesteven District Council clarification on this.”

Patient Paul Vickers felt it would be more useful to increase facilities to reduce waiting times and improve access to see a GP. He said: “I had to wait over two weeks to get an ‘urgent’ appointment. The current pharmacy services provided at Boots, Gohil’s and Tesco are more than sufficient for Sleaford.”

Tesco pharmacy is already open 100 hours a week for out of hours emergencies.

Mr Vickers does not believe the new pharmacy is needed and he has concerns about the effects on local residents, with increased traffic, noise and nuisance in the early morning and late at night.