SALINE won a "David vs Goliath" battle earlier this year in its bid to get a community pharmacy but there's now a giant-sized delay.

Lisa Duncan's first application was rejected by the NHS Fife Pharmacy Practices Committee (PPC) but she appealed and a second hearing in June ruled that she could open a dispensary in the under-used community centre.

The pharmacist had first broached the idea with villagers in 2019 and there was "massive support" for the proposal but celebrations were cut short as the main objector, Dears, who have the nearest pharmacy in Oakley, have appealed against the decision.

And to make matters worse no-one seems to have any idea when the appeal will take place.

Ms Duncan told the Press: "It's incredibly frustrating for everyone and especially the residents.

"They've been vociferous in saying they want this for the community but it's moved at a glacial pace.

"I appealed on the procedure of the first PPC hearing, it was felt it had been influenced by stuff that shouldn't have been included, and because that was successful the panel decided it could be heard again.

"The second PPC hearing went in my favour and the pharmacy was approved.

"But what's happening now is Dears have appealed, I don't know on what grounds, to the National Appeals Panel (NAP)."

She continued: "Fingers crossed it gets thrown out but the problem is NAP don't have a chairperson, they haven't had one for nine or 10 months, so I don't have any idea of when it will be heard.

"I also don't know how many other cases are waiting to be heard, there could be a real logjam.

"There's nothing I can do but sit and wait."

NHS Fife confirmed the matter is out of their hands and the NAP is part of NHS National Services Scotland (NSS).

The Press asked NSS if a panel chairperson was in place and they responded and said it was a matter for the Scottish Government, who have responsibility for appointing a replacement for the retired chairperson.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are currently in the process of recruiting a chairperson of the NAP.  Any outstanding appeals will be considered once the role has been filled.”

The government pointed out that the NAP cannot overturn the decision of NHS Fife’s PPC but can refer applications back to it for reconsideration.

Dunfermline Press: Plans for a community pharmacy in Saline have been dealt a blow.Plans for a community pharmacy in Saline have been dealt a blow. (Image: Newsquest)

Consent to convert two rooms at the community centre was granted by Fife Council last year and Ms Duncan said: "I'm working as a locum just now so I don't have to give any notice, the planning permission is in place and I've got a shopfitter lined up and ready to go.

"As soon as we're told we're good to go I can get on and open as soon as possible.

"I just don't know when that might be."

As well as the two rooms, the pharmacy would have shared access to adjacent areas to allow the creation of a waiting/display area, and access to disabled toilet and kitchen facilities.

Ms Duncan said it would be "self-contained" which would allow it to be isolated from the rest of the community centre when closed without impacting on public access.

The community council backed the idea and said it would act as a "catalyst" to establishing a health and wellbeing hub, opening a community cafe and encouraging more groups, services and organisations to use the premises.