Pharmacists condemn private firm's plan to cut GP prescribing

Plans to give GPs cash for prescribing fewer medicines to patients are 'irresponsible bribery that potentially places patients at risk', according to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB).

The scheme will see profits from cutting drug bills shared between GPs and private company Assura, which is bidding to take over the prescribing budgets at two undisclosed primary care trusts.

David Pruce, RPSGB director of policy and communications, said: ‘Assura’s agreements with PCTs to give GPs financial kick-backs when they prescribe cheaper, generic drugs amount to plain bribery.

‘Paying doctors to prescribe cheaper drugs is the wrong approach. Prescribing is a core role for GPs and the proposals to reward doctors who change their prescribing habits when it may not be in the best interests of patients is unacceptable.’

An Assura spokeswoman said: ‘Assura believes that pharmacy has a critical role to play in medicines management across the board.

‘The conceptual model we are looking at does not involve paying doctors to prescribe cheaper drugs. It involves working with doctors to ensure the best health outcomes for patients through managing their medicines better and reducing waste.

‘The situation is that discussions are at an early stage with a number of PCTs on a model which could provide savings to the NHS and it is inaccurate to say that Assura is on the point of signing contracts with two PCTs. We are not in a position to identify the PCTs until any contracts might be signed. When the model is further developed we hope to be in a position to give more details.’

neil.durham@haymarket.com

  • Should private firms be employed to cut drug budgets?

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