A GROUP of independent businesses is applying to Hampshire Primary Care Trust for a licence to open a new pharmacy in the vicinity of Hayling Health Centre.
Butt and Hobbs Ltd, trading as Hobbs Pharmacies, submitted its application IN late December, and is now awaiting the outcome of a lengthy official consultation process, which is expected to take at least until the end of July.
Pharmacies can only open with the permission of the local Primary Care Trust (PCT), which has to decide whether a new pharmacy is necessary or desirable.
As part of the process, all existing surgeries and pharmacies on the Island will be consulted, and the public can also make comments.
The four existing Hayling chemists are all owned by Lloydspharmacy, which has around 1,700 branches across the UK, employing more than 15,000 staff and dispensing more than 122 million prescription items annually.
Butt and Hobbs is a small group, with a total of five independent pharmacies, mostly in Kent and Surrey.
Business development manager Saeed Younis said Hayling residents had a limited choice at present because all the pharmacies on the Island were owned by one company.
Figures from the Prescription Pricing Authority showed that the two medical practices at Hayling Health Centre issued prescriptions for approximately 25,500 items per month.
He believes that this figure indicates that there might be a need for another pharmacy in the area.
Mr Younis claimed critical public comments on the Hayling internet forum - some with allegations of long waiting times, staff shortages and other problems – supported this, but other postings on the website praise the service offered by local pharmacy staff.
He added: "Internet forum postings cannot be used as evidence, so we hope that people will write to the Help and Care Forum Support Organisation and the PCT as well, so that their comments can be taken into account."
Sue Mills, of Hampshire PCT said: "We know there is a lot of strong feeling about this but we can't go on hearsay. We need the public to write in with facts about their experiences.
"It would be great if they could write to HCFSO because then we will have a record of what people think about this issue."
Comments regarding the application should be addressed to: Help and Care Forum Support Organisation (HCFSO), Wessex House, Upper Market Street, Eastleigh SO50 9FD.
Lloydspharmacy has pledged to improve service through its four shops on Hayling.
A spokesman said: "Lloydspharmacy is sorry to hear that some of its Hayling Island customers have been unhappy with the service they have received.
"We have recently appointed a new area manager for Hayling Island who is making service standards at the branches an absolute priority.
"As part of this we are reviewing staff rotas and looking to streamline operations to ensure the service is of the highest standard."
Do you think that Hayling Island needs a new pharmacy? Write to: The Hayling Islander, 78 Elm Grove, Hayling Island PO11 9EH or email: email@example.com