STAFF at a West Hallam surgery fear they could lose their jobs once two pharmacies open in the village.
NHS rules dictate that the pharmacies attached to West Hallam Medical Centre and The Dales Medical Centre must stop dispensing to patients who live within a mile of the area when the two new pharmacies open in the Dales shopping centre.
And there are fears that The Dales Medical Centre, with a staff of just four, may be forced to close completely as the move would mean its pharmacy would lose about three quarters of its patients. West Hallam Medical Centre is also concerned that its pharmacy could close.
Receptionist at the Dales Stephanie Elkins said: “It’s just the unfairness that you can have all these chemists within such a small area.
“We’ve not been told we are going to close but it’s definitely going to have an impact on us.”
And Dr Steve Houlton, senior partner at West Hallam Medical Centre, said: “Dispensing is a considerable part of our income so redundancies, reduction of hours, including doctors and nurses, are likely, but we will survive.”
This week NHS Derbyshire gave permission for the opening of the new pharmacies – Matrix Primary Healthcare at number 3, The Dales, and Mr Suhaib Abdullah, applying to open at number 11 – to be delayed by three months.
Matrix Primary Healthcare plans to open in September 2011. Mr Abdullah is in discussions about his lease and needs more time to complete his work, according to an NHS spokesman.
Primary care commissioning manager for NHS Derbyshire Pauline Eastwood said the new pharmacies would offer services the surgery pharmacies could not.
“Current pharmacy services in West Hallam are not adequate for a population of 7,000 people, so we are acting in the best interests of our patients by granting preliminary consent for a new pharmacy,” she said.
“It is important that the elderly and young mothers in particular have easy access to pharmaceutical services. Currently, West Hallam residents have to travel at least 4.5km to get to their nearest pharmacist as dispensing doctors do not provide a full pharmaceutical service in the village.
“A new community pharmacy would provide essential services such as stopping smoking, advice to care homes, emergency hormonal contraception and palliative care medicines as well as expert advice on the use of all medicines.”
A third firm, Knotfree Limited, also put in an application to open a pharmacy in West Hallam but health chiefs turned it down because ‘it was not necessary or expedient’, but the applicant is currently appealing against the decision.
In 2009, five applicants showed an interest in opening a pharmacy in the village.
“An appeal was made by all five original applicants interested in opening a new pharmacy in West Hallam,” Ms Eastwood said.
“This resulted in the NHS Litigation Authority granting permission to two applicants.”