Fringe Box



Letter: Politicians Should Not Take Credit for Pharmacy Appeal Success

Published on: 1 May, 2024
Updated on: 1 May, 2024

King’s Parade Burpham where a new pharmacy is expected to open

From: George Potter

Lib Dem borough councillor for Burpham and county councillor for Guildford East

See: Appeal Decision Means a New Pharmacy for Burpham

I was absolutely delighted when Zohib Sheikh texted me last week to say that, after months of waiting, he had finally won his appeal against the NHS care board’s bizarre decision to refuse permission for the opening of a new pharmacy in Burpham.

That this appeal was won, and that the NHS was forced to concede that making decisions based on an outdated pharmaceutical needs assessment for the area (one which predated the closure of two out of three pharmacies) was wrong, is entirely down to Zohib’s determination and the overwhelming support he received from the community in Burpham and Merrow.

Over a thousand people signed a petition against the closure of the Merrow Park pharmacy, and hundreds of residents wrote in to support Zohib’s appeal by providing details of the impact caused by inadequate pharmacy provision locally and explaining why a new one was desperately needed.

This people power (along with the absurdity of the original decision) is undoubtedly the main reason why the appeal succeeded, as it made it possible to prove to the NHS that a new pharmacy was needed.

The reality is that the effort to get a new pharmacy for Burpham was supported by elected representatives of all parties. Local borough councillors (of all political stripes) wrote letters in support of the appeal and encouraged residents to do likewise.

>The petition against the closure of the Merrow Park pharmacy (which had been organised by Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Zoe Franklin and by Merrow Lib Dem borough councillors Jo Shaw and Yves de Contades) was provided to the NHS as proof of public demand for more pharmacy services in the area, and both Zöe Franklin and Angela Richardson MP lobbied the NHS (as well as Boots) about the need to improve pharmaceutical provision in Burpham and Merrow.

But, while all of these efforts couldn’t possibly have hurt, the victory here was won by Zohib and by local people. None of us politicians can, or should, claim to have done anything more than play a bit part in supporting the work of Zohib and the community, and any politician should think twice about trying to take credit for the work of others; especially so if they would also prefer not to take the blame for the systemic under-funding which caused the closure of the previous Burpham and Merrow Park pharmacies in the first place.

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