Patients back under-threat dispensing GPs

89 per cent of patients add their weight to DDA case for no changes under pharmacy White Paper.

Patients overwhelmingly oppose DoH plans to scrap dispensing practices, a survey has found.

The survey, by the Dispensing Doctors Association (DDA), found 89 per cent of dispensing patients want to retain the choice to collect their medication from their GP.

Ninety-five per cent said it would make life difficult if their surgery stopped dispensing.

One patient is quoted as saying: 'Why, why, why must these changes happen when everyone is satisfied?'

The survey forms part of a DDA response to the DoH consultation on the pharmacy White Paper. The association is urging the DoH not to alter rules governing dispensing practices.

DDA chief executive Dr David Baker said the survey highlighted the value patients place on existing services. 'The system is efficient, cost-effective and safe. So for goodness sake don't change it,' he said.

Changes to the dispensing rules would force many patients to fill prescriptions at pharmacies long distances from both their homes and their GP.

The DDA says that such changes would make it significantly harder for many patients to access medicines. Its survey found that dispensing practices have a high proportion of mobility-impaired patients, such as the elderly or disabled.

The report also uses the government's own figures to show that, contrary to DoH assertions, dispensing doctors are cheaper than pharmacists. The DDA says the average cost to the NHS per item dispensed by a pharmacy is £11.40 - compared with £9.79 for those dispensed by GPs.

The government is expected to decide whether to change the dispensing rules early in 2009. Dr Baker said the consultation had prompted responses 'well into the tens of thousands'.

The DDA surveyed 6,000 patients who are registered with a dispensing practice in England.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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