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DDA issues rural Call to Action

Dispensing GPs are urged to lobby local politicians

September 20th 2023

Tagged: DDA news Conference news political news Rurality

By Ailsa Colquhoun

The DDA has issued a Call to Action to rural politicians ahead of next year’s elections to remove health inequalities for rural people.

At the 2023 annual conference, the DDA will ask delegates to urge local politicians to raise their voices on behalf of constituents who are regularly failed by health policy.

In a new ‘Call to Action’ to rural MPs, AMs and MSPs, the DDA calls on politicians to work together to create a GP service that always takes into account the unique needs of rural patients.

The DDA’s Call to Action sets out three key shortfalls in current rural health service policy:

 … for patients:

Nine million patients (13 per cent of the UK population) live in rural areas where access to a pharmacy is usually very limited. Pharmacies can offer a range of proven medicines services that promote safety and cost-efficiencies for the NHS – but these are currently unavailable to patients living in rural areas who receive NHS medicines from a dispensing GP.

Key take-away: The rights of dispensing patients must always be respected equally when considering pharmaceutical service policy in rural areas

… for the NHS:

Developments such as the Electronic Prescription Service secure significant operational efficiencies throughout the NHS and for patients. However, around 1,200 dispensing practices across the UK are yet to secure NHS funding to implement this vital technology in their practices.

Key take-away: Dispensing practice policy and funding should encourage and protect innovation in dispensing practice

… for the dispensing doctor practice:

  • Profit margin control measures in dispensing practice (known as the NHS ‘clawback’) are now 25 years old; they no longer reflect the current drug marketplace and expose dispensing practices to financial penalties on  hundreds of items, affecting every practice, every time that they dispense these items.
  • Dispensing service fees have not been updated in line with inflation since 2019. Effectively, this has devalued fees by 20 per cent, putting immense pressure on dispensing practice operating costs and forcing cut-backs. This puts patient safety at risk and reduces local employment opportunities.

Key take-away: Dispensing practices should never be expected to operate and dispense at a loss

At the conference, DDA Chairman Dr Richard West will urge local politicians to stand up for rural constituents and correct these inequalities. Dispensing practices can download the rural Call to Action to display in their practices and to write to local politicians using the template letter below

View the DDA Call To Action Rural

View the template letter to politicians

Politician contact details can be found below: