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Dispensing practices 'could all be finished in two years'

By Nigel Praities

All dispensing practices will disappear, along with more than 5,400 jobs, if government proposals to change the rules of entry are adopted, the Dispensing Doctors' Association claims.

Under the Government plans, practices who are within one mile of a pharmacy would be forced to stop dispensing medications.

The Dispensing Doctors' Association estimates the impact of these changes, which will be part of a public consultation later this month, could result in the 1,700 dispensing practices in the UK losing up to 50% of their income and redundancy for the 4,436 dispensing staff, 376 GPs and 762 other practice staff who work in them.

Currently patients who live more than 1.6 km from a pharmacy are allowed to receive dispensing services from their doctor. The proposals in the Pharmacy White Paper will change this to the distance from a pharmacy to a surgery.

Dr David Baker, chief executive of the Dispensing Doctors' Association, said competition with pharmacies would increase with many dispensing practices finding their right to dispense being withdrawn.

‘Within 2 to 3 years dispensing will all but be finished by doctors, under these plans. Whereas now it is not viable to have a pharmacy in rural areas, it will suddenly become viable and pharmacists being business people, they will take advantage of that,' he said.

Dr Lisa Silver, a GP at a dispensing practice in Nettlebed, Oxfordshire, said the plans threatened four practices in her local area.

‘Lord Darzi in his report was going on about choice, but actually these plans will deny three million patients the right to have their medicines dispensed from their practice,' she said.

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