THE Lead Councillor for Health on Torridge District Council has urged the Government to abandon controversial proposals that, he says, would make life more difficult for rural patients in the district. Adam Symons is concerned that recent consultation on

THE Lead Councillor for Health on Torridge District Council has urged the Government to abandon controversial proposals that, he says, would make life more difficult for rural patients in the district.Adam Symons is concerned that recent consultation on the Government's Pharmacy White Paper detailed plans to withdraw GPs' rights to dispense medicine.Currently, rural GPs can dispense drugs if the nearest pharmacy is more than a mile away. But the consultation details plans to withdraw GPs' right to dispense medicine, he said.He is worried that some rural GPs' surgeries could be forced to close if the Government presses ahead with its plans. Mr Symons said: "Many GPs rely upon income from their dispensary services to help them deliver other services. I am concerned that where this income is lost, services and staffing may have to be reduced. This would be devastating in Torridge as, because of its highly rural nature, large numbers of GPs' surgeries have their own dispensary."These changes proposed by the Government could lead to the closure of many of these dispensary services. We should be encouraging GPs to provide a one-stop shop service, so that patients can be examined and treated at one location. I do not believe the Government has properly thought through the outcomes of their proposals, but they will be alarming to rural medical practitioners.