Hundreds sign petition to save St Leonards pharmacy

Hundreds of people have signed a petition to help save a St Leonards pharmacy that will lose its NHS licence to dispense prescription later this year.

Monday, 7th June 2021, 12:12 pm

Paydens Pharmacy, located at the St Leonards Medical Practice, will lose its licence in October after its application to relocate to the new site was overturned following an appeal on behalf of a local pharmacy. As a result, the pharmacy was only given an emergency licence in October 2020 and that expires after 12 months.

A number of residents expressed their disappointment with the news, with one setting up a petition to ‘save’ the pharmacy by granting it a permanent relocation licence.

The petition, set up by Michelle Crane, says: “Losing the ability for the pharmacy within the medical centre to dispense NHS prescriptions from site and to deliver them to the many vulnerable and elderly patients would be a travesty.

St Leonards Medical Centre. Photo supplied by Assura. SUS-201015-143423001

“Many patients travel to the medical centre pharmacy specifically due to their long-standing professional relationship with Brent the pharmacist there of over 20 years.”

By Monday morning (June 7) the petition had received 629 signatures.

What has happened?

Paydens Pharmacy applied to the local NHS team to permanently relocate to the St Leonards Medical Centre, in Bexhill Road, after the council served notice to end the temporary lease the pharmacy had at Falaise Road, where it was located along with the Carisbrooke Surgery.

However, the application process was significantly delayed due to Covid and, as a result, Paydens Pharmacy was given an emergency licence in October 2020 to operate out of the Bexhill Road site for a period of 12 months.

According to John McConville, the director of pharmacy at Paydens, the local NHS team agreed to grant the temporary relocation as they deemed it essential the pharmacy did not close.

The permanent relocation application was approved by the local NHS team in July last year. However, following an appeal on behalf of a local pharmacy against the decision, it was overturned and permission to relocate was then refused.

As the emergency licence only lasts for 12 months, and was granted when the new medical centre opened in October 2020, the licence to dispense NHS prescriptions will end in October this year.

A spokesman for NHS South East said: “Following an appeal on our original decision to grant an application for a relocation, the pharmacy will be able to remain at the Carisbrooke Surgery on Bexhill Road until October. However there are 17 other pharmacies a short distance away that patients can continue to access.”

How have people reacted?

People took to the Hastings Observer Facebook page to express their disappointment.

Jan Ripley said: “Absolute madness. Always so friendly, helpful and efficient there. Forcing many poorly people to travel further.”

Rachel Cooper added: “I use them regularly and they do a fantastic service for the community unlike some other pharmacies. This is madness. I’m so disgusted and disappointed that we can’t do something to keep this essential service.”

Chris Kilpatrick labelled it a ‘ridiculous decision’, adding: “I can only echo what other people have said. It makes perfect sense to have a pharmacy on site with the medical centre. And where are these 17 other pharmacies.”

Other residents praised the ‘helpful staff’ at Paydens, particularly pharmacist Brent Auld.

Ally Clarke said: “Brent is brilliant. They need to keep the pharmacy there as the doctors just ping the prescriptions over and it’s done by the time you get down the stairs. They all know us all in there.”

Emma Waugham described Brent and his team as ‘amazing and helpful’.

“Brent is always so helpful. All the staff are very helpful. We need to fight to save our pharmacy,” added Sarah Gough.

‘Considerable concern’

The St Leonards Medical Centre is occupied by Carisbrooke Surgery and the Silver Springs Medical Practice branch site of the High Glades Medical Centre. In total, more than 16,000 patients are registered at the centre.

Dr Nick MacCarthy, senior partner at Carisbrooke Surgery, said a large number of these patients would be affected by the closure of Paydens Pharmacy.

He added: “Not all patients use this pharmacy but a large number do as it’s convenient for them. This decision is going to impact a lot of people.

“There will be considerable concern if that pharmacy should have to close. It will disadvantage a number of the 16,000 registered patients, many of whom rely on that pharmacy.”

The Carisbrooke Surgery was formerly located at Marlborough House, Warrior Square, before a fire in 2013 left the building damaged. The surgery operated out of portable cabins before moving into the new medical centre in October 2020. Paydens Pharmacy has worked alongside Carisbrooke Surgery for the past 18 years, according to Dr MacCarthy.

Mr McConville added: “In order to allow a pharmacy to open and offer a full range of NHS services from the site, the Health and Wellbeing Board is required to identify a need in the area and issue a supplementary statement to its Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment. It is hoped that they will do this following their next meeting in July.”