About Dispensing Practice

Dispensing doctors are general practitioners (GPs) who provide primary healthcare to around 9.9 million rural patients. Almost 3.5 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.

A total network of 1,107 dispensing practices across Great Britain is located as follows:

England: 948 dispensing practices, 9.28 million registered patients (November 2022) NHS Digital

Scotland: 92 dispensing practices, 282,688 registered patients (April 2023). Public Health Scotland

Wales:  67 dispensing practices, 304,409 registered patients (February 2023) NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership

The DDA has produced a briefing paper for NHS commissioners in England, summarising the key points about dispensing practice. Papers for Scotland and Wales will follow in due course.

Please click on the links below to find out more about dispensing practice.

Dispensing practice in England: a briefing paper for NHS commissioners: high res version; low res version

Safeguards in dispensing practice

Dispensing Doctor Myth Buster

Challenges in Dispensing Practice