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Health Minister denies dispensing practices will be forced to close

By Nigel Praities

The Government has admitted dispensing GPs may lose as much as £20,000 through rules changes in its pharmacy white paper, but has dismissed suggestions that practices will be forced to close.

Dawn Primarolo, minister for public health, was accused of a ‘mendacious' attitude after telling parliamentary debate she did not accept that the plans would threaten the viability of dispensing practices.

Under the Government plans, practices who within one mile of a pharmacy would be forced to stop dispensing medications, in a move which the Dispensing Doctors' Association estimates will threaten up to 1,700 dispensing practices with closure.

Ms Primarolo told MPs: ‘The average GP partner of a practice who does not dispense earns about £120,000 a year; a dispensing GP partner would earn, on average, about £20,000 a year more, taking their income to £140,000.

‘It is also true that dispensing GPs have smaller list sizes, but even allowing for that, average income for a GP dispensing medical services would not become unviable.'

Dr Lisa Silver, a GP at a dispensing practice in Nettlebed, Oxfordshire, disagreed with the minister's calculations and said up to three-quarters of dispensing practices could close.

‘The minister is being mendacious in her comments. It is difficult to be precise about the losses as they vary from practice to practice, but the loss of income to the practice will be more than £20K,' she said.

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