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Dispensing doctors are general practitioners (GPs) who provide primary healthcare to over nine million UK rural patients. Nearly 3.8 million of these patients live remotely from a community pharmacy; at the patient's request dispensing doctors are allowed to dispense the medicines they prescribe for these patients.
Only certain patients are eligible to receive dispensing services from a dispensing doctor; in total, around 7% of all prescription items are dispensed by doctors.
The unique benefits of the dispensing doctor service are that it provides access to medicines and general healthcare under one roof.
Click here for some key facts on rural health.
The regulations affecting dispensing patient eligibility vary according to region. For more information, click on the relevant region below:
Standards in dispensing practice
Dispensing doctors are very proud of their dispensaries and service standards are set high. Dispensary standards for doctors in England and Wales are set out in the Dispensary Services Quality Scheme (DSQS) which was agreed by the NHS, the General Practitioners' Committee and the Dispensing Doctors' Association, and introduced in 2006/07. The DSQS is a quality framework, which has patient safety at its centre and it has been widely adopted by dispensing practices.
Click here for more information on the DSQS
The GMS Contract and Statement of Financial Entitlements (SFE) provides guidance to doctors and outlines the safeguards in place to prevent excessive or inappropriate prescribing by health professionals involved in primary care.
Click here for more information.
The 2012 DDA publication: Dispensing Guidance: Quality in Practice provides a comprehensive overview of the regulations and good practice to be adopted by GP dispensaries. The Guidance is available online, and printed copies are free to members or available for non-members to buy (price: £15).
For more information on the dispensing practice or the DDA:
Tel: 01751 430835