STAFF at Callington Health Centre raised fears this week of the threat to patient services if the Government agrees a proposal to scrap GP dispensaries. The Callington and Gunnislake Group Practice, which has more than 16,250 patients on its books, is the largest dispensing practice in Cornwall with an average of 7,900 drugs prescribed every month to 3,600 people. Under the proposals in the Government's white paper, 'Pharmacy in England', dispensing GP practices in market towns where there is a pharmacy within a mile of the surgery will close. This would not affect Gunnislake which has no local pharmacy but it would Callington, which has a Lloyds chemist in the town centre. Practice manager Peter Edwards said: 'The partners are extremely concerned about the threat to patient services. 'The loss of the dispensary would affect the income of the practice and therefore our ability to provide services would be reduced. 'It is a very useful service to a lot of people who can see a doctor, get a prescription and pick it up in the same place. 'The Government is always telling us to provide good integrated service for our patients and it is especially important for people with mobility problems, the elderly and mothers with young children.' Mr Edwards said hours had been extended at the practice to give greater flexibility to people who were working and the feedback from the communities had been very good. 'We open till 8pm one day a week at both health centres and on Saturday mornings at alternate centres,' he said. 'The dispensary also remains open till this time so patients can have their prescriptions made up.' Secretary of the Callington and Gunnislake Group Practice League of Friends Hazel Jones said the group would fight any proposal to close the dispensary and lobby South East Cornwall MP Colin Breed. Director of primary care services for the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Primary Care Trust Dr Peter Knibbs said: 'Following a national review of pharmaceutical contractual arrangements and the publication of a government white paper, a recommendation has been made to consult on changed arrangements for the dispensing of medicines. 'The PCT has established a group, including local GP and pharmacy representatives, to consider these recommendations. 'The national consultation will take place over the summer months and local people and clinicians are being invited to give their views.' The Department of Health states on its website that the white paper sets out 'a vision for building on the strengths of pharmacy, using that capacity and capability to deliver further improvements in pharmaceutical services over the coming years as part of an overall strategy to ensure safe, effective, fairer and more personalised patient care.' South East Cornwall MP Colin Breed said there had been a lot of talk about this already and MPs had made representations on behalf of the dispensaries and pharmacies. 'It is the sort of thing that appears quite clever in urban areas but for rural areas it spells disaster once again. 'We now have to wait for an announcement and see what the reaction is as far as the PCT is concerned. There will have to be a very full public consultation where everyone will be able to give their views but MPs have already got their retaliation in.'