Dispensing fees cut by 8.7% in new pay scale

Fees for dispensing doctors are to fall by 8.7% from October to clawback funding from the first six months of 2009/10, NHS Employers and the GPC have revealed.

Dr David Bailey
Dr David Bailey

The drop for the remaining six months of 2009/10 is designed to deliver an overall drop of 4.9% drop for the year. From 1 April 2010 there will be an uplift to produce a figure ‘appropriate for the full new financial year', NHS Employers said.

Dr David Bailey, lead negotiator on dispensing for GPC, said the GPC was ‘disappointed' by the new pay scale. ‘Many patients in rural areas rely on dispensing practices to obtain their medicine and I am very concerned that NHS Employers has underestimated the costs of providing dispensing services, which inevitably rise with increasing volume,' he said.

The new fee scale has been designed so that awards for dispensing doctors are comparable to the annual award that the DDRB grants to all GPs, while allowing for the additional costs of the dispensing process.

It will be split into two components (cost and pay). Profit will be uplifted in line with the DDRB annual award. Cost will be raised to reflect the annual national volume increases in dispensing.

The DoH is due to perform a ‘cost of service inquiry' to understand the costs of providing dispensing services, which is expected to begin early in 2010.

The inquiry should help develop a fairer cost analysis and reimbursement structure in future, Dr Bailey said.

But he added: ‘The government needs to act urgently to deal with the unilateral withdrawal of discounts by many of the drug wholesalers, which could threaten the viability of some dispensing practices.'

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