‘We’ll keep battling for a new local pharmacy’

CAMPAIGNERS have vowed to keep fighting for a new pharmacy in Southmead Road.

Local pharmacist Tanzil Ahmed wants to open at the site vacated by Boots six months ago but his proposal has been turned down despite strong support from people living nearby.

Now Mr Ahmed, who runs pharmacies in Shirehampton and at the Greenway practice, is appealing against the decision by the NHS South West Collaborative Commissioning Hub committee.

The committee said it “noted the comments submitted by patients and recognised some of them are elderly, however there is no real evidence provided to demonstrate that accessing pharmaceutical services from the other pharmacies in the area is challenging”.

The decision report, which ran to eight pages, said there were a significant number of pharmacy providers within 0.9 miles of the proposed location, with the nearest being 0.7 miles away.

It also said: “The area has good public transport links, enabling access for those who do not walk or have access to a car.”

However, local people say they would have to walk to the former pharmacy site, at the junction of Wellington Hill West, just to get a bus to an alternative provider.

Frances Robertson, one of the leading campaigners, said decision makers “seem oblivious to the concept that when people need prescription medication from a pharmacy, it is because they are unwell.”

More than 900 people signed an online petition started by Frances urging Boots not to close the pharmacy, which serves parts of Horfield, Henleaze, Southmead and Westbury on Trym. Several councillors also took up the cause.

Residents are being urged to email letters of support to Mr Ahmed at lakepharmacybristol@gmail.com to back up his appeal. They are advised to focus on irregularity of bus links, lack of medication meaning repeat visits are needed, and extensive queues at the alternative providers.

Frances and her fellow supporters are frustrated that other pharmacies in the area have objected to the proposals, even though “to the best of our knowledge, none of the patients who used the old Boots pharmacy would even consider travelling to other pharmacies, even if there were bus services to them, which there are not.”