Pharmacy bids could halve the income of dispensing practices

Dispensing practices around the country could lose half their income because a company has made a string of speculative applications to set up new pharmacies.

Manchester-based United Pharmacies has made 80 such applications since launching last November.

Only one, in Widdrington, Northumberland, has so far been accepted by a PCT. But the company has won several others on appeal.

Dr Chris Waite, a partner at the Widdrington Surgery said that, if a pharmacy goes ahead, the practice will lose half its income and the equivalent of half a GP.

A spokeswoman for Northumberland PCT said that there had been ‘no reason to reject the application'. Under current regulations it had no choice but to accept it, she said.

The practice is now challenging the plan before the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA).

GPs and pharmacists alike have criticised United's scattergun approach.

Widdrington Surgery acts as a dispensary for 97 per cent of its patients, and fills 6,000 prescriptions a month. Staff say that this accounts for half its income and subsidises other services.

If United's plan goes ahead, the practice will no longer be able to dispense to 80 per cent of its patients. It would be forced to give up dispensing altogether if the recent pharmacy White Paper becomes law.

The NHSLA's decision is expected by mid May.

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