Community split over pharmacy bid

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A SHEFFIELD health centre’s plans to add a pharmacy – open 100 hours a week – have split the community.

GP partners at Darnall Health Centre say a survey at the practice indicated 80% of patients are in favour of converting part of the premises off York Road.

But a protest petition has attracted 232 names, and objections have been received from the local tenants’ and residents’ association and Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts.

Critics are worried that a new pharmacy will hit existing businesses in the Darnall centre, create noise and other disturbance in the evening and at weekends and attract drug and alcohol addicts.

Councillors will decide on Monday whether to give the go-ahead. They are being advised by their officers of the overall benefits.

The application is to offer a pharmacy during the health centre’s opening hours and up to 11pm during the week, between 8am and 11pm on Saturdays and 9am and 7pm on Sundays.

The GPs do not expect it to be used extensively outside normal opening hours but say it will provide an emergency service, allowing patients to obtain prescriptions outside surgery hours and advice from a health professional.

An on-site pharmacy would also allow closer working relationships between GPs, practice nurses and pharmacists and help the practice in monitoring its budget.

Six full-time and four part-time jobs would be created, with the hope of providing apprenticeships.

A previous application was rejected three years ago because of the anticipated effect on the Darnall centre, and noise and other nuisance at weekends and at night – and the latest objectors say the council should not change its mind.

“The proposal will have an adverse impact on the vitality and viability of Darnal shopping centre, which has declined further since the previous refusal of planning permission,” it is argued.

“Pharmacies are mainstays of the shopping centre and if the existing pharmacies close, people will stop visiting the centre.”

Objectors add that there are enough pharmacies in the area, including 100-hour operations at the Handsworth Asda and the Spital Hill Tesco Extra.

However, council officers do not believe there would be any major problems.

Most customers would have prescriptions issued by doctors at the health centre and there would only be a “limited” number of visits in the evening.

The location is already affected by noise from the ring road and a 24-hour petrol station and there is no evidence that crime and anti-social behaviour would increase, they conclude.