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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Government ditches change to GP dispensing rules

By Nigel Praities

The Department of Health has backtracked on plans to change the rules of entry for dispensing practices, in an announcement in the House of Commons this afternoon.

Care Services Minister Phil Hope said there would be ‘no change' to the current arrangements after a consultation showed most responses supported the status quo.

Fears had been raised that all 700 dispensing practices could close if proposals to remove the right to dispense from surgeries up to 1km away from a pharmacy went ahead.

Phil Hope said: ‘We are analysing the responses we have received to the consultation on pharmaceutical provision in England and we will be making an announcement on these wider issues as soon as possible in the New Year.

‘However, I am aware of the strength of responses we have received on the various options for amending the criteria for dispensing by doctors. We have taken account of the views of those attending the listening events, the meetings and so on.

‘Because of this I'm pleased to announce today that there will be no change to the current arrangements for GPs dispensing medicines to their patients,' he said.

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley welcomed the decision: ‘This is a massive U-turn from the Government. For months, they refused to acknowledge calls from us, patients and GPs to allow doctors to retain the ability to be able to dispense drugs. Had they gone ahead there could have been disastrous consequences for patients in rural communities,' he said.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, Norman Lamb said: 'At long last, common sense has prevailed. The Government has finally listened to the concerns of people in rural areas but it would have been better if it had avoided raising the fears of a large numbers of patients in the first place - many of whom are elderly.

'It is extraordinary that the Government was working so hard to undermine a successful and well-liked service. Quite why it has taken so long to reach this conclusion is very puzzling.'

Dispensing GPs no longer under threat

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