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No Pharmacy at New Barns!

Friday 18 November 2011, 23:48
By John Hayden

The new Wincanton Health Centre, at New BarnsDid you know that there will not be a dispensing pharmacy at New Barns Surgery?

It came to my notice when the windows of the expected pharmacy were being bricked up. Research then showed that Wincanton Town Council and South Somerset District Council had rejected planning approval for the pharmacy. Further research then showed rejection was based on the commercial interest of the town, not in the interest of the patient. Government policy is a one stop health provision. Wincanton Town Council has NOT considered the inconvenience to the elderly or the mother with sick children.

Where is the transport to get back into the town to get your prescription dispensed?

I am absolutely disgusted that councillors both town and district can be so self centred.

If you feel the same give your councillor the sharp end as you elected him/her to represent you not town businesses.

John Hayden


Posts: 2
In response to "Absolutely Disgusted"
Reply #1 on : Tue November 22, 2011, 15:12:35
I hope that the research John Hayden refers to having done takes into consideration the articles on the Wincanton Health Centre filed under Medical which you can find on the Wincanton Window. These cover the issues and problems involved in setting up a new health centre and the provision of a pharmacy on the site quite comprehensively. Archiving articles in this way is something a web magazine can do which a newspaper cannot.

As to the issue itself. The new Health Centre is about to open and it will have no pharmacy and it is a significant distance from the existing pharmacies. Providing patients with quick one stop access to the medication they need must surely rate as a higher priority than preserving not one but two pharmacies in the town centre. Town and District councillors need to reconsider their decision.

And what of the present soon to be the "old" health Centre. Owned by the Primary Care Trust will it soon be boarded up and left to rot as has happened in at least one other nearby village? Perhaps finding a new and better use for that building is something District and Town Councillors could apply themselves to investigating.
Last Edit: November 22, 2011, 15:20:56 by johnbaxter  
Posts: 2
Absolutely Disgusted
Reply #2 on : Wed November 23, 2011, 14:50:39
It may surprise you to know that as Chairman of our Business Community I totally agree with the majority of John’s comments on this rather sensitive issue. As a long standing client at our Health Centre I believe that the new Health Centre will enable our local team to provide an even better service to us all.

It's common sense to have an in-house Pharmacy, as this brings a further valuable benefit to both the patients and the Health Team. So why has this become such a volatile issue? What’s the problem? Why is the proposed Pharmacy Window being bricked up if the answer is so clear?

The answer lies in the overall picture. John is quite rightly expressing a very personal view which I also agree with. However, whether we like it or not our local Councils have to take a much wider view in all matters. In modern litigious times Councils have to take advice from experts who advise them on the legalities of planning permissions and any issues that can cause problems for any current plans. Who pays for the legal expenses in any appeals? You do. Your Council rates pay for all the legal work in all appeals. Please don’t join the seemingly long line of people eager to chew up and spit out our Councils for doing a bad job. Far from doing a bad job, they actually do a marvellous job in spite of the almost complete lack of needed resources. They are not there to cause problems. They are there to do their best for us all, and we need to encourage them.

Personal views, whilst important, need to be balanced by the wider perspective before we make judgements. The vast majority of Wincanton residents would have been even happier if the new Health Centre could have stayed in the centre of town. The fact that the new centre has to be situated on the edge of the Town was not the ideal position. However, in the interests of achieving the much needed upgrade in our health services this has been accepted and we all await the official opening very soon.

John quite rightly asks about transport for the elderly and any disadvantaged folks in our community. He doesn’t ask how they will get to the new Health Centre.They were all used to attending in the Town centre.

John accuses the Town and District Councils of making a bad decision based on the commercial interests of the town. Councils can’t ignore the fact that when Wincanton agreed to Safeway (now Morison’s) opening on the edge of town they included a condition that there should be no Pharmacy. This was an honourable attempt to protect the integrity of, and keep a heart in our town centre. Lose your Town centre and you damage your community. At that time we had two independent Pharmacies. Now have two Boots Pharmacies. With the condition set, and taking into account that Pharmacies have to be licenced we have a situation that if the Councils allow a new in-house Pharmacy they would be opening a can of worms. This would allow anyone to apply to have a Pharmacy. Legal precedents would be overturned and controls lost.

So, whilst I agree with John in the main, such a solution would come with serious collateral damage in our Town Centre and in other areas of Council operation. In a previous article I appealed to all concerned, that if an in-house Pharmacy was to be agreed, that it should be negotiated with Boots so that the result would be the transfer of one of the existing pharmacies to the new Centre. But even this would open the can of worms.

As it is, the new Health Centre will cause a reduction in footfall in the town centre area. If an in-house Pharmacy was granted that footfall would be further reduced.

So John’s personal view may be ideal,and indeed very relevant but it does come with baggage. We need to remember that in most things in life actions, and decisions etc., usually always cause knock-on affects, even away from the scene.
Nick Colbert
Posts: 1
Absolutely Disgusted
Reply #3 on : Wed November 23, 2011, 20:42:28
In my duties as a district councillor I attended the town council meeting to gauge the view of the town council on this issue as I am supposed to do. The public are invited; they turned up in numbers for the Bovis Homes planning application, but not for the pharmacy application.

The town council were overwhelmingly against the pharmacy application for two reasons.

The first was that Morrisons had been refused a pharmacy on the grounds that it would damage the High Street if one were to be granted "out of town".

Secondly that they genuinely believed that it would damage the town centre, and that Morrisons would have a case as to why had they been refused on those grounds when someone else was subsequently granted a licence out of town.

The argument of "How will someone get to the pharmacy" is questionable because if someone can get to an out of town health centre then they could get to the pharmacy. The question for those who can't travel is how will they get to an out of town health centre, if they have mobility problems their drugs will be delivered to them.

At the end of the day I have heard arguments on both sides, but the overwhelming argument I have heard from the residents is that the health centre should have stayed in a central location to the benefit of its patients.

Rather than duck the issue I have tried to provide some reasoning, but I wonder where we draw the line, if we have a health centre and a pharmacy on a business park next to the HGV 1 lorries delivering to APB Packaging and Rochfords, who belong on a business park, do we have a primary school then an opticians? a dentist? chiropractor? and a massage parlour?

Answers on a postcard and given to Colin Winder please.

By the way the appeal for the pharmacy has been lodged so the arguments can be heard all over again by the inspector.
Last Edit: November 23, 2011, 20:46:21 by Nick Colbert  
Posts: 2
Which John?
Reply #4 on : Thu November 24, 2011, 10:46:34
I was at first confused. Did John Smith refer to me JB or John Hayden. I guess it is JH. As for Councillor Nick Colbert's reaction, answers not on a postcard but as a comment here first please so we can all read them.
It also seems odd to keep going on about how most residents would have prefered a central location. True, but now that is history.
I note no-one wants to comment on what they think should be done with the present Health Centre building.
Posts: 2
Whicj John?
Reply #5 on : Fri November 25, 2011, 10:40:06
My apologies John B. John seems to be a popular name around here. I confess that when I was born I was christened John by my parents, but as we had so many relatives called John Smith, family gatherings got quite interesting. So, north of the border I have always been called Jack.

To the point. John B is quite right. Our new Health centre is set and in time it will, or will not have a pharmacy. The appeal will settle that.

So what will happen to this valuable Town Centre site? Maybe our Town and District Councils would like to release some information to encourage us. This is the sort of site that will always have a major impact on the future viability of a Town Centre.

Should we have a selection of new small retail units to further enhance this area?

Should this area be levelled and converted to new Town Centre Car Parking?

It would be interesting to read the views of our readers. Who knows, maybe someone in authority might take them on-board.

If you haven't already done so, please remember to complete your Wincanton People's Plan Questionaire and return it to The Town Hall by 5th December latest. This is a great way to let our Councils know how you think Wincanton should develop.
Dan Dare
Posts: 1
Why grant planning in the first place
Reply #6 on : Tue November 29, 2011, 17:02:07
Having got to the surgery in thr first place without transport you will then find you have to get back to the town for your dispensing. Why grant planning in the first place if this is not a preferred site?
Regarding further shops, the Abbey plans for the block yet to be built identifies future commercial mixed use development. (Tesco Express?) Let's be consistent.
Richard Joyce
Posts: 1
New Barns Pharmacy
Reply #7 on : Sun December 11, 2011, 14:30:33
I used the Wincanton Health Centre for a number of years but because we live a few miles to the South of the Town we decided that the small branch surgery at Templecombe might be more convenient. A big advantage is that it dispenses prescription medicines from a small on-site pharmacy; the one stop aspect is excellent and means saving unnecessary journeys into Wincanton. Although we no longer use the chemists, we frequently use a lot of the other shops.

Wincanton Health Centre has a patient list of around 8,000, with no pharmacy, that potentially is a large number of journeys and a considerable waste of people’s time. Refusing planning permission is at best perverse, at worst unprintable. I was unaware that the remit of various councilors was to make the lives of the majority of their constituents more difficult.

The reason given for refusal was:-

“It is not considered that it has been demonstrated that the provision of a pharmacy within the medical centre would not be prejudicial to the vitality and viability of the town centre. As such the proposal is contrary to with policies MC3 and MS2 of the South Somerset Local Plan, adopted 2006.”

I have never found a way of proving negatives – double negatives are even harder. Who exactly this refusal is supposed to benefit I have no idea – certainly not the patients.

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