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Ross pharmacist-turned-MSP Maree Todd hails role of stretched service and urges professionals to consider flitting to Highlands to plug gaps

By Hector MacKenzie

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Lloyds Pharmacy on the High Street in Dingwall is actively recruiting for a full-time pharmacist amid a national shortage.
Lloyds Pharmacy on the High Street in Dingwall is actively recruiting for a full-time pharmacist amid a national shortage.

A FORMER pharmacist who now represents Ross-shire as an MSP says she would encourage fellow professionals to relocate to help plug gaps in provision.

Maree Todd MSP made her remarks as Lloyds Pharmacy on Dingwall’s High Street earlier confirmed recruitment difficulties mirrored nationwide.

Ms Todd said: “Our community pharmacies have been absolutely vital to the NHS response to the pandemic. They have provided a fully accessible service to patients and members of the public for healthcare advice and access to their prescription medicines in what have been challenging times.

“I am aware that there have been closures across the community pharmacy network impacting on a reduction in opening hours and the provision of NHS pharmaceutical services due to multi-factorial issues. This is a situation being experienced across all of the UK.

“I know first-hand that the Highlands is a fantastic place to work as a pharmacist, with opportunities to learn new skills, develop strong working relationships and to serve your community well by making a really positive contribution to their good health. I would definitely encourage fellow pharmacists to come and work in Dingwall.”

The shortage of pharmacists has created a headache in a number of Ross-shire communities.

One customer turned away from Lloyds Pharmacy on Dingwall’s High Street because of the issue contacted the Ross-shire Journal to query the situation after being surprised by the turn of events.

He said it was his understanding that no pharmacist was available at the time, forcing staff to delay customers planning picking up prescriptions and causing real inconvenience for some.

A spokesperson for Lloyds Pharmacy said: “Our priority is to provide the best possible service and care to our customers and patients. We are actively recruiting for a full-time pharmacist at our Dingwall pharmacy but recruiting new pharmacists and pharmacy teams has become increasingly difficult; there is a shortage of pharmacists, and the profession is listed on the Home Office’s Shortage Occupation List.

“Legally a pharmacist must be present in the store for it to open and to give patients their prescriptions, therefore at times when a locum pharmacist can’t be sourced in times of sickness and absence our last resort is to temporarily close.

“When there is an unexpected closure, it is our policy that colleagues remain at the pharmacy to signpost customers to alternative pharmacies and answer basic queries.

“We are working together with other community pharmacy operators and the NHS to address the sector-wide workforce challenges.”

Similar problems have been reported across Ross-shire and other parts of the Highlands.

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