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Coronavirus / Pharmacists playing important role in pandemic, councillor says

A COUNCILLOR has praised the role Shetland’s pharmacies have played during the coronavirus pandemic – and he has called for a representative of the local sector to take a seat on the board of the isles’ health and social care partnership.

South mainland member Robbie McGregor, who himself has been involved in pharmacy for a number of decades, said that during the lockdown “our pharmacies remained open and allowed the public to have face to face access with staff and get advice”.

SNP councillor Robbie McGregor.Councillor Robbie McGregor.

During a virtual meeting of Shetland’s health and social body the integration joint board (IJB) on Thursday, McGregor said community pharmacies which have dispensed medication – like the ones in Lerwick, Scalloway and Brae – have “stepped up” during the pandemic.

He noted that while pharmacies have remained open, other services have had to be accessed by phone.

McGregor has himself been on the pharmacy register for a number of decades and while he remains a director of a company on the Scottish mainland, he has no involvement in the local sector.

The councillor asked if any consideration had been given to having a pharmacy representative on the IJB, which has a number of representatives from different fields such as nursing, social work, the third sector and care.

The budget for pharmacy and prescribing in the 2020/21 IJB budget is over £6.6 million, which is over 10 per cent of the overall figure.

Interim chief officer Jo Robinson said pharmacies have played an “absolutely critical role” in supporting communities in Shetland during the pandemic.

She said she would be “absolutely open” to considering having a pharmacy representative on board.

Shetland Islands Council’s governance and law manager Jan Riise, though, explained that any addition to the board would have to be considered when its integration scheme – which sets out how the IJB operates – is next reviewed.