Outrage was today expressed over a decision by the Western Health Board not to provide a community pharmacy in the Bogside area.
The Bogside & Brandywell Health Forum today said the recent Western Health and Social Services Board’s refusal to back a new pharmacy service at Meenan Square “flew in the face” of common sense.
The WHSSB today responded that if the Health Forum was not happy with the decision they could appeal it.
Chair of the Health Forum, Róisín Barton, claimed however that the decision was wrong given that the area was “probably the most deprived community in the north”.
She said: “The decision was wrong, unjust and flew in the face of all common sense.
“Around two years ago the Health Forum met with the pharmacist who was keen to consult with the local community as the type of service needed in the area.
“As a community-led Healthy Living Centre in the area, we too were keen to ensure that the proposal was needs-led and based on partnership with the local community.
“The Bogside always had a chemist until recent years and its closure was viewed as part of a wider context of closures and general run-down within the area.
“The proposal therefore to re-establish a community pharmacy in Meenan Square shops was met with great enthusiasm locally.”
Ms Barton said she attended a a recent hearing convened by the Western Board and made it clear as to how the proposal would be received locally and the benefits it would bring to the local community. Despite this, the proposal was rejected.
“The Western Board’s subsequent refusal to agree to this proposal is wrong and unjust in that it leaves a socially and economically deprived community without a pharmacy for possibly another generation” Ms Barton said.
“This decision runs contrary to the ongoing process of regeneration in terms of encouraging small businesses to locate within the area.”
Sinn Fein MLA Martina Anderson and representatives from the Brandywell Residents’ Group and the Bogside & Brandywell Initiative have also expressed outrage at the decision.
Residents’ spokesperson Declan McLaughlin said it was unfair for people to have to make their way to the city centre or Creggan to avail of a basic service.