Concern has been raised after prostate cancer patients in Tayside were told they can no longer collect their medication from local pharmacies.
Following a national NHS contract change, prostate cancer patients who usually pick up prescriptions from a local pharmacy will now have to travel to Ninewells Hospital or Perth Royal Infirmary to collect the drug.
Those who take the medicine abiraterone were advised of the hospital-only collection in a letter from Katherine Cowie, lead pharmacist in oncology at NHS Tayside.
She said the changes, including a move to the non-branded version of the drug, would allow “an opportunity for significant cost-savings for NHS Tayside”.
‘A six-bus trip’
But one prostate cancer patient in Tayside tells us the decision is ‘really worrying’ for him and others undergoing treatment.
The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, explains: “This new directive means Ninewells or Perth for me. That will mean a six-bus trip there and back.
“Maybe not bad if you’re on your own. But I look after my wife 24/7 and, believe me, that would put me on my knees.
“I’ll be running out of my medication in two weeks’ time, so will require some new supplies soon.
‘I offered to pay for delivery’
“I contacted the hospital and asked if they could send my drugs by courier and offered to pay for delivery. But no deal.
“Someone could pick up my drugs for me but only after working hours.”
Prostate Scotland says Abiraterone is “an important and valuable medicine for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer” and they’ve welcomed its availability in Scotland.
‘Hope to have a solution in near future’
A spokesperson adds: “We hope measures can be put in place by NHS Scotland to enable people who will find it difficult to get to the hospital pharmacy to be able to easily access this medicine and are bringing this issue to NHS Scotland’s attention.”
NHS Tayside’s spokesperson says: “Abiraterone can be collected from either Ninewells Satellite pharmacy or Perth Royal Infirmary pharmacy by the patient or a patient representative if the patient is unable to travel.
“We recognise this change may be an inconvenience and are looking at options for how this medication can be made more easily available.
“We hope to have a solution in place in the near future.”
‘Health boards are responsible for ensuring patients have access to medicines’
NHS Fife director of pharmacy Ben Hannan says: “There is no change in collection arrangements for Abiraterone for NHS Fife patients.
“Mechanisms are in place to support patients who are unable to collect from one of the local hospitals and require home delivery.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson adds: “Health boards are responsible for ensuring patients have appropriate access to their medicines.
“Anyone who is faced with challenges in accessing their medicines should discuss with their local clinical team… to make them fully aware of the problems being experienced and so they are also able to provide support.”
Satellite pharmacy opening times:
- Ninewells satellite pharmacy is located on level 3, just before you get to ward 32. The easiest way to get to the satellite pharmacy is through the entrance at Princess Alexandra at the back of the hospital near A&E.
Open Monday – Friday 9.30am-4.30pm. Closed weekends.
- Perth Royal Infirmary’s satellite pharmacy is in the main building on level 3.
Open Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm. Closed weekends.