This week there are two related news items from the world of pharmacy which may be of interest to Dispensing Doctors, writes Dr Allan Tennant.
Many of you will have experienced the effect of Pharmacy Regulation loopholes. It now looks like there maybe one about to occur in the new Pharmacy Regulations.
Asda is planning a £400 million programme to build mezzanine floors to stores in Merseyside, Colchester, Grantham, Kingswood near Hull and Merthyr Tydfil. The government apparently opposes this programme.
As we all know Asda (owned by Wal-Mart) has plans to open more pharmacies and was a significant driver in the OFT enquiry into the control of entry of pharmacies.
The proposed mezzanines will increase the floor space of their shops, taking them over the 15,000 sq metres, making them exempt from the control of entry regulations. Apparently most major retail planning permissions specify the maximum floor space.
Pharmacies in local communities could lose business to new pharmacies opening in such developments, says PSNC in response to a consultation document from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
The consultation process by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister ended on the 26th of May 2005, into Planning Control of Mezzanine and Other Internal Floorspace additions.
We at the DDA would share the PSNC's concerns as pharmacy development in out of town shopping centres could affect some Dispensing Doctors.
A recent National Audit Office (NAO) report published on the 19th of May 2005 identified pharmacy as the most significant source of third party income in new LIFT developments. Here at the DDA we know of several Dispensing Doctors who are developing their own LIFT schemes including a pharmacy.
Neal Patel of the National Pharmacutical Association has been reported as saying "The community pharmacy network has an important public health role and if PCTs put a pharmacy in a primary care centre where it is not necessarily needed it may have a knock-on effect, creating a deprived area."
These 2 stories highlight concerns of the pharmacy community on the possible erosion of control of entry over time. GPs also have concerns about the privatisation of General Medical Services by the government. We have recently responded with concerns to a consultation on independent prescribing by pharmacists. It is difficult not to feel that the government are using the professions and commercial companies to weaken the vested interests within the NHS, playing us of against each other.
Why the government wishes to do this when we have probably the best primary care service in the world and the cheapest dispensers of medicines in the Western World is beyond us.