A Tayside public health boss has defended pharmacy access in Dundee after a company labelled the city a “blackspot”.
Dr Andrew Radley said a league table compiled by online pharmacy Medicine Direct was “misleading” and the city is far better served than the firm’s figures suggest.
Medicine Direct claimed its analysis of NHS data showed the Dundee postcode area, which includes parts of Fife and Angus, was the second worst in Scotland measured by the number of pharmacies per head of population.
The Kirkcaldy postcode area, which covers another large part of Fife, was fourth worst in Scotland.
In the Dundee postcode area, there are 63 pharmacies with each serving 4,453 people, according to the study. In the central London postcode area, each pharmacy serves only 1,132 people.
On Shetland, the best in Scotland, there are 1,924 people per pharmacy.
The company said it carried out the study since pharmacies are likely to be used in later stages of delivering Covid-19 vaccines, highlighting the importance of good access.
However, Dr Radley, NHS Tayside consultant in public health pharmacy, questioned the study.
He said: “It is somewhat misleading to use DD postcodes, which include Fife and Angus, and then to claim that Dundee comes second in the list as Scotland’s worst city for pharmacy access.
“The interpretation of these data in this way does not give an accurate picture of the valuable contribution to the health of our communities made by community pharmacies.
“Dundee is well-served by pharmacies opening after 6pm and pharmacies opening over seven days and offering a full range of services,” he added.
“The premise that there is an optimal size of population per pharmacy is not based on any evidence.
“It is not very realistic to compare the needs of the population of Dundee with those of either London or Lerwick.”
A Medicine Direct spokesman said their data showed “Dundee residents have one of the worst access to pharmacies in the whole of the UK”.
Jon Higham, managing director at Medicine Direct, said: “While the Covid-19 vaccines are a huge step in the right direction for recovering from the ongoing pandemic, administering it presents a logistical conundrum and pharmacies play an important role.
“The necessity of community pharmacies and dispensaries has been thrown into question once again.
“However, it is clear that supply and demand for these services vary drastically across the country, which could eventually result in longer waiting times for a vaccine in certain locations.”