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2 April 2003

Stevenson Welcomes Dec ision On Pharmacy Report

SNP Scottish Parliamentary candidate for Banff & Buchan Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement by the Deputy Health Minister that the Scottish Executive is to reject the recommendations of the Office of Fair Trading report on pharmacies.

Mr Stevenson – who has met with many community pharmacists in Banff & Buchan in recent weeks as part of the campaign of opposition - commented:

“I am aware that there has been a high level of worry amongst many rural pharmacies with regards to their future in light of the recommendations within the recent OFT report on the pharmacy industry. The report had suggested that the prescription drug selling market should be opened up completely to incorporate supermarkets, and it was widely thought that this would result in a negative affect on community pharmacies.

“However, the Deputy Health Minister, Frank McAveety, has declared that he will be rejecting the OFT’s recommendation to scrap present rules which limit both the number and location of prescribing chemists. Except the subject has not been completely determined, and the government has not likewise overruled the proposed deregulation of the pharmacy industry.

“I understand that this has been a very distressing period for rural pharmacies, but I am certain that Frank McAveety’s declaration has, no doubt, brought a great deal of relief. I view the U-turn made by the Scottish Executive over the OFT report as a triumph for the numerous local pharmacies who have campaigned against these changes. However, my existing fear is that the U-turn announced may result in being a meaningless promise. On this basis, I shall therefore be seeking a guarantee from the Executive that they have no ambition in the slightest of implementing the OFT recommendations.

“I am certain that the many pharmacies within Banff and Buchan provide an essential service to their local communities, and it is this service which must be continued to benefit us all.”

Stewart Stevenson
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