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Independents' Day

GPs could prescribe blacklist drugs

A parliamentary row has erupted over a hole in the new contract that would leave GPs free to prescribe blacklisted drugs on the NHS, writes Rob Gough.

The RCGP has condemned the glaring omission to replace the schedule 10 and 11 rules that ban GP prescribing of many over-the-counter drugs and 'lifestyle' drugs like Propecia and restrict NHS use of drugs like Viagra.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Dr Evan Harris has demanded action from health minister John Hutton to clarify the issue.

Dr Nicholas Norwell, medicolegal adviser at the Medical Defence Union, said: 'Theoretically, doctors could prescribe all the blacklisted drugs on an FP10. It behoves the negotiators to sort this out.'

RCGP prescribing chair Dr Jim Kennedy, a GP in Leeds, said the problem was one of 'a thousand and one' gaps in the contract and warned that a failure to address it could undermine GPs' confidence in the new deal. He added: 'Issues like this underline just how big a job the two sides are going to have over the next 12 months ­ and for most GPs, the devil will be in the detail.'

GPC negotiator Dr Laurence Buckman said: 'No one has ever mentioned schedules 10 and 11 in the light of the new contract ­ no one has thought it relevant.'

But he admitted: 'I can see why it might be an issue.'

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