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Dispensing GPs cheaper by £6+ per patient

Exclusive PD1 analysis shows the dispensing GP advantage

July 27th 2015

Tagged: DM Zone news DDA news Pharmacy owners' news

By Dr Allan Tennant

Dispensing by GPs saves the NHS in England £6.11 per patient, compared to the total costs of dispensing in a pharmacy, latest analysis of PD1 reports for 2014-15 shows.

Overall, this represents a 3.5% saving to the NHS in England. The saving rises to 8.2% or £11.12 per patient, when fees are excluded, exclusive DDA analysis reveals. During 2014-15 dispensing GPs cost the NHS £125.16 per patient in terms of the cost of drugs supplied for dispensing, compared with the equivalent pharmacy cost of £136.28.

The report, which is adjusted to exclude income relating to PA, shows that during 2014-15 and compared to dispensing practice, pharmacies received fewer fees associated with the dispensing service (£37.66 per patient vs dispensing GPs’ £42.67). This reflects the movement of pharmacy remuneration towards pharmaceutical care services such as the New Medicines Service and Medicines Use Reviews. Dispensing fees received by GPs are also used to cross subsidise wider rural practice healthcare services.

The PD1 does not document income from pharmacy services, but data from PSNC shows that in England in 2014-15, £88.8m was spent on the MUR service. This should be considered when calculating the overall cost to the NHS of providing pharmacy services and when comparing to the total cost to the NHS of the GP dispensing service (which has no NMS or MUR equivalent service). Information on pharmacy service funding and statistics on the delivery of the NMS and MUR services are available from PSNC by clicking here.

Commenting, DDA chief executive Matthew Isom says: “These figures demonstrate that dispensing by GPs continues to offer the NHS excellent value for money, while ticking the box of patient-centred care. We would urge the NHS to do all it can to allow dispensing GPs to continue to maximise dispensing efficiencies, for example, by fast-tracking our inclusion in the Electronic Prescription Service and by resolving long-standing challenges in the reimbursement of the dispensing GP service.”

The key points in this research have been included in a new DDA briefing paper for NHS commissioners in England. This has been placed in the About Dispensing Practice section of our website.

Notes and references
Per patient figures are based on the following source:
Dispensing patients: 3.25 million
Pharmacy patients: 53.504 million
Source: NHS BSA quarterly patient list size

Click on the links below for PD1 reports (including April 15)
Dispensing practice items
Pharmacy items
Appliance contractor items