“Don’t write dispensing practices off just yet: we deliver primary care in rural locations that are unattractive to other providers. We are a less expensive option than if primary care organisations run these for themselves,” DDA board member and Cullompton GP Dr David Jenner told the DDA 2017 annual conference in a presentation looking at the future of dispensing practice and the NHS.
Speaking to delegates in a personal capacity, he said: “Maybe, we are more protected, more stable and better able to hold onto our partners and nurses than our urban colleagues. Nevertheless, seven-day working is a major challenge to the GP profession that is already struggling to deliver five-day working. “Our biggest issue is around non-recurrent funding,” he explained. “If it’s not regular planned income you can’t employ people against it and you can’t do ‘owt with nowt.”
Another complication for dispensing practices is how will weekend patients will collect their medications. “Realistically, weekend appointments are likely to be provided from hubs. Unless these are located in a dispensing practice, the premises will not be approved for dispensing.” In another question for conference, he asked: will hubs encourage use of the electronic prescription service and distance pharmacy?
Thinking positively, he told the conference that NHS policy for general practice has formally acknowledged the existence of dispensing practices and has pledged to find ways to enable ‘full participation by dispensing practices’.
He said: “I see this as a positive view of dispensing practices.”
However, current challenges for dispensing practice include NHS prescribing restrictions which will hit dispensing fees. As the legislation currently stands, dispensing GPs are unable to sell medications to patients.
He also repeated the view that dispensing practices must take care when merging or making changes to their contractual model. “Dispensing rights cannot be maintained by a corporate body,” he said, “so watch out!”
View Dr Jenner’s conference presentation.