Dispensing doctors row reaches House of Commons

Removing GPs' dispensing rights will hit services and reduce patient choice, the Conservatives have warned.

Speaking during an adjournment debate, Tony Baldry, MP for Banbury, told the House of Commons: ‘The income from dispensing subsidises other services, for example, branch surgeries.’

The practice in his own village of Bloxham is under threat following an application to establish a new pharmacy. Residents would be ‘genuinely delighted if a chemist shop is opened in Bloxham’, he said.

But under current rules, patients who live less than a mile from the pharmacist will no longer be able to receive drugs from their GP. And if this year's pharmacy white paper becomes policy, the practice will lose its dispensing rights completely.

‘The government says that they are keen to give NHS patients as much choice as possible,’ said Mr Baldry. ‘So why not give them choice about where they have their drugs dispensed?’

His comments were backed up by several other Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs.

But health minister Ivan Lewis suggested that there would be no change in government policy.

‘Dispensing doctors can play a vital role by allowing patients to collect their medicines from a surgery's dispensary without undertaking a lengthy journey to the nearest pharmacy,’ he said.

But he added: ‘In the vast majority of cases, if the patient wishes to receive the services of a dispensing doctor, they need to live in a designated controlled locality.’

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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