900 dispensing practices facing 'threat to survival'

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

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

However, 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 do 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, it could prescribe to all the patients who attend and the dispensing practice would not be allowed to offer a competing service, losing its dispensing income. 

The Dispensing Doctors Association (DDA) says that pushing ahead with this scheme means that only dispensing doctors in the most remote locations will survive.

DDA chairman Dr Richard West, a dispensing doctor in Suffolk, said over 80 per cent of the 1,170 dispensing practices that are run by 4,300 dispensing GPs in England would be adversely affected. 

‘Potentially it could be catastrophic for dispensing doctors,' he said.

rachel.liddle@haymarket.com

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