The DDA has welcomed the decision to allow a Grampian dispensing practice to continue to dispense as “some glimmer of common sense” that recognises the difficulties patients can have in getting medication from a pharmacy.
In an emergency review of dispensing from the Haddo Medical Group in NHS Grampian, a specially convened review group has recommended that:
- The Haddo Medical Group should be allowed to continue dispensing to patients who have a serious difficulty in obtaining their medication
- This authority should be limited to dispensing to patients who have serious difficulty by virtue of both the need to obtain medication following the issuing of an acute prescription and that on that day they do not have access to a car to travel to a pharmacy.
The review group, made up of NHS Board executive and non-executive members, has also recommended that NHS Grampian conduct a review of GP practice prescribing across the region to formulate clear objective criteria around interpretation of the GMS regulations to ensure patients have access to the most appropriate services to meet their clinical needs.
Grampian NHS Board will make its decision to accept the Review Group recommendation at a special meeting on January 16.
The emergency review group meeting follows a pharmacist-led Judicial Review of the decision by NHS Grampian to allow continued dispensing of medicines by the Haddo Medical Group for patients living in all areas except that covered by the Tarves neighbourhood.
A key finding of the Court was that this decision was unlawful as it permitted continued dispensing for all patients living outside of the Tarves neighbourhood despite the review panel finding that only a proportion of individuals in that population had a serious difficulty of access to a pharmacy.
To decide the extent of ‘serious difficulty’ present among users of the Haddo Medical Group dispensary, NHS Grampian has held a consultation inviting the views of affected patients and local organisations.
Responding to the consultation, Udny Community Council said: “… both the young and elderly have severe difficulty getting to the pharmacy in Tarves… whilst the timetable for the bus service may appear acceptable, it’s not until you match this up with [GP] consulting hours that you appreciate the serious difficulty it creates.”
Doctors from the Haddo Medical Group added: “As a locality there is high car ownership for the population… but this is a commuting population… the car will be used to commute to work. It is conceivable that patients would delay filling their prescriptions until [this could be collected] on their behalf or to coincide with other essential trips.”
Tarves Pharmacy said: “We opened Tarves Pharmacy… on the basis that our pharmacy would remove any ‘serious difficulty’ for patients in those areas which HMG’s authorisation was put in place to tackle. We believe any continued authorisations of the HMG to dispense to any patient would be unlawful.”