900 dispensing practices facing 'threat to survival'

Over 900 dispensing practices could lose their right to sell medicines under the proposed pharmacy shake-up.

At the moment, rural GP practices can dispense to patients who live further than 1.6km from a pharmacist.

But in the Pharmacy White Paper published last week, the DoH recommends a single 'control of entry' system, where the distance between the GP practice and the pharmacy is the only qualifying factor.

Practices that qualify will be able to dispense to all their patients and sell OTC medicines, which is currently not allowed.

But if a pharmacy opens close to the practice, the dispensing practice would not be allowed to offer a competing service, losing its dispensing income.

The Dispensing Doctors Association (DDA) said that the scheme would mean that only dispensing doctors in the most remote locations will survive.

DDA chairman Dr Richard West, a dispensing GP in Suffolk, said that over 80 per cent of the 1,170 dispensing practices in England would be affected.

'It could be catastrophic,' he said. 'Whether the practices close because of it or cut down on their services, we can't tell.'

rachel.liddle@haymarket.com

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