Health and Social Care Minister Rob Callister MHK has said another pharmacy could be introduced to Ramsey to solve a Lloyds ‘monopoly’ in the north of the island.

Following a question about staffing issues at the Lloyds branches in Ramsey, Mr Callister said his department were looking at a long-term solution.

He said: ‘We are looking at maybe adding an additional pharmacist in Ramsey, an independent pharmacist, but that is going to take some time to go through all of the applications.

‘I also need to look at the regulations in order to ensure that they are fit for purpose for what we need. That work has already started.’

The MHK for Ramsey, Lawrie Hooper, also described service levels of the ‘monopoly provision’ as ‘clearly not acceptable’.

Following staff related closures earlier this year, the ‘primary care pharmacy team’ stepped in to ensure customers could still access stores but Mr Callister said this was ‘not a sustainable solution’.

He said Lloyds were working on a recruitment plan, adding: ‘Manx Care has been working with Lloyds Pharmacy on island and at their head office, in order to fully understand the problems.

‘A weekly Situation Report is also being produced every week to give an oversight of issues and any patient safety concerns.’

During the discussion, Tim Glover MHK spoke of seeing queues ‘out the door and round the corner’ at one pharmacy in the town with people waiting for ‘over two hours’.

Mr Callister said: ‘I think sometimes people all seem to go at the same time, so I would ask people maybe to go at different times during the day, if they can.’