Dispensing GP leaders argue practice profit figures are out of date

Government figures on the profits made by dispensing doctors are out of date, dispensing leaders have argued.

Dr Bailey: ‘Discount levels from wholesalers and manufacturers have reduced markedly since the time the data was collected'
Dr Bailey: ‘Discount levels from wholesalers and manufacturers have reduced markedly since the time the data was collected'

The Dispensing GP Practices Cost of Service Inquiry, published today, said that dispensing practices make a profit of 7% on their dispensing activities.

This profit occurs because dispensing practices' income, from sources such as dispensing fees and drug reimbursement, is higher than their costs, the report said.

However, the inquiry was completed in the middle of last year, and based on end-of-year figures for 2009.

Therefore it is ‘significantly out of date already’, Dr David Bailey, lead negotiator on dispensing for GPC, said. Dispensing Doctors Association (DDA) chairman Dr David Baker agreed. ‘Things have got worse since then,' he said.

‘We thus fear that 7% is likely to be an overestimate since discount levels from wholesalers and manufacturers have reduced markedly since the time the data was collected.’

Dr Baker said that recent changes to reimbursement meant that in some cases dispensing practices were actually making a loss.

‘In smaller practices this figure may be well be approaching zero, or in the worst cases, going into the red,’ he said.

‘There is no doubt that the discounts that are available have fallen further,’ he added.

Dr David Baker said that the DDA, along with the GPC, would be meeting the DoH to discuss the future of GP dispensing.

Dr Baker said today’s report would help negotiations by providing a ‘factual base’ for the DDA’s arguments.

‘We look forward to working positively with the DoH to ensure that the dispensing service our patients tell us they really appreciate is both fairly remunerated and accurately reimbursed,’ Dr Baker said.

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