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Monday, 21 April 2014

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Cockermouth hospital pharmacy is still a sore point

A Cockermouth GP has defended the town’s Castlegate Pharmacy as more than 70 residents this week questioned the handling of the tendering process for a new pharmacy at Cockermouth Hospital.

Dr Helen McArdle, a GP partner at Castlegate Surgery and a director of Castlegate Pharmacy, said in a letter to today’s Times & Star that the pharmacy was looking to provide the best services to the community.

Shareholders in Trinity Pharma, which trades as Castlegate Pharmacy, are GPs from the town surgeries which are moving to the new hospital which is due to open next month.

That decision prompted town chemist JWW Allison to claim that the contract had been awarded without a proper tendering process.

Dr McArdle stated that the operation of a seven-day-a-week 100-hour pharmacy was in no way detrimental to the community.

She said that the pharmacy offered the opportunity for patients requiring an urgent prescription to get it in the town rather than having to travel away from Cockermouth.

She said: “We see opportunities to use the pharmacy to improve the process within our surgeries.

“We cannot know the intentions of Allison’s pharmacy.

“However, their actions are clear and, as stated by Justice Blake, they failed to make the appropriate business decisions at the appropriate times.

“We as a competing business are not responsible for the predictable consequences of their behaviour.”

Dr McArdle said the pharmacy had followed the rules rigorously.

She said their intentions had been to provide the best possible services for the community and they had worked tirelessly to make it happen.

She added: “We understand people have loyalties to other local businesses and we too want our pharmacy to succeed through its own merits and are very much looking forward to moving to our new premises in January.”

Dr McArdle’s comments come as more than 70 residents expressed their disappointment at how the situation had been handled.

A letter signed by them in today’s Times & Star says there is a strong feeling in the town and that it was not morally acceptable that the pharmacy was being run for the GPs’ profit.

They said they were concerned that a contract for a new pharmacy was not put out to tender and that the then Primary Care Trust gave a verbal commitment to GPs that they would run the pharmacy at the new hospital.

They have asked for answers to a number of questions. They want to know whether all profits from the new pharmacy will be put back into the NHS, how the decision to establish a pharmacy in the temporary accommodation was reached, and the names of shareholders in Trinity Pharma and what positions they hold in the NHS.

They claimed it was not appropriate for GPs working and prescribing medicines to profit from the new business.

Trinity Pharma director Dr Simon Desert has said that the GPs were not going to make big profits from the pharmacy, as it will be open long hours and at weekends and as a result will have large overheads.

l Letters in full – page 10

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