PROPOSALS to open a new pharmacy with GP services at a fast-growing development near Bicester have been refused by NHS England.

A group of Bicester-based doctors want to open up in a new unit on Camp Road at Heyford Park - a site which will eventually be home to 7,000 residents.

It would be called Minerva Clinical Services and allow patients in Heyford Park and nearby to pick up their prescriptions closer to home and book a GP consultation there - instead of travelling to Bicester or Deddington.

But NHS England says there is already a 'reasonable choice' of pharmaceutical services available, there is no evidence of people having difficulty accessing pharmacies or of 'innovative approaches' that the new pharmacy would take.

It does not believe the facility would bring significant benefits to the area.

Minerva Clinical Services has appealed the decision and Councillor Andrew McHugh, who previously expressed his support of the pharmacy, said he hopes NHS England will change its position.

He said: "Speaking in a personal capacity, I was disappointed by NHS England’s decision not to approve this application. I remain convinced of the value of providing a pharmacy with primary care consulting rooms to the people of Heyford Park.

"I sincerely hope NHS England will reconsider their decision on appeal."

Before NHS England considered the pharmacy, letters had to be submitted from residents and any organisations that supported it.

Heyford Park Residents Association (HPRA) was one of them, which highlighted the fact that the closest pharmacies to residents were not in locations that were easily accessible.

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Former chair of HPRA Marc Thielke said: "We challenged the assumptions of the five mile radius distance and the eight pharmacies within it being sufficient. We live out in a rural area. Walking is not an option, cycling is hazardous, driving is far and the bus travel time is even more problematic. We have about 2,000 residents in our village. The mid-Cherwell (10 surrounding parishes) population is about 8,000. It is just under the 10,000 population the CCG would require to establish a new surgery."

The HPRA has sent a reply to NHS England in support of Minerva's appeal, emphasising that many residents would like to have a pharmacy in the village that they can easily get to.

Some of the organisations that have written to express their support, include Community First Oxfordshire, Upper Heyford Parish Council, Steeple Aston Parish Council and Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum.

Heyford Park Parish Council however has not given any indication of whether or not it supports the plan.

Getting approval to open a new pharmacy anywhere is a difficult and complex process because it needs approval from the NHS - which is also required to ask any existing nearby pharmacies to have their say as part of the process.

Dr Toby Quartley, an Alchester Medical Group GP partner and director of Minerva Clinical Services, said: “We’re still doing everything we can to persuade the NHS that the fast-growing Heyford Park community is now ready for a pharmacy and that it’s a correct place for one.

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"That’s why we’re appealing against the refusal to allow it and why we’re grateful that so many residents and local organisations are showing their support by sending in letters - which are being forwarded to the NHS for consideration.

“We’re sure that a Heyford Park pharmacy could bring real benefit to everyone living in the area and substantially reduce the number of journeys that residents are currently having to make to pick up their prescription medicines in either Bicester or Deddington.”

Heyford Park Parish Council was contacted for comment, but failed to respond.