Pharmacies threaten small dispensing practices

Pharmacies are threatening the livelihood of small Scottish practices that rely on dispensing income to stay afloat, the GPC is warning.

Dr Susan Taylor
Dr Susan Taylor

Pharmacies are opening in small communities without a public consultation, according to the GPC.

Dr Dean Marshall, chairman of GPC Scotland, said such pharmacies were threatening the viability of practices.

Many practices in remote areas are dispensing GPs, relying on their pharmaceutical work to bolster lower pay from small lists. But changes to the Scottish pharmacy contract have made setting up shop in small communities a much more attractive proposition.

GPC Scotland argues that as this represents a significant change to service provision, allowing the pharmacies to open is unlawful under the NHS Reform (Scotland Act) 2004 unless there is a public consultation.

Dr Susan Taylor, a GP from the Morvern Medical Centre in the isle of Oban and chairwoman of the Rural Practitioners Association of Scotland, said the lifeblood of small practices is under threat.

She said: ‘The new pharmacy contract gives them access to a kind of quality and outcomes revenue stream that is simply not open to us which means it is a good incentive for them to open in remote communities. But it isn’t a level playing field. Potentially some areas could be left with a pharmacy but no GP – it’s that serious.’

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