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GPs censured over online pharmacy recommendation

A GP practice using electronic prescriptions has been given a stern warning for recommending an online pharmacy company to patients but not mentioning any local outlets.

NHS South East London has censured a surgery in Lambeth, London, which wrote to patients to tell them that their prescriptions could be sent to Pharmacy2U.

A spokesperson for NHS South East London said: ‘Prescribers should not seek to persuade a patient to nominate a certain dispenser. Instead if a patient asks the prescriber to recommend a dispenser, then the prescriber should provide the patient with a list of all the dispensers in the area who provide the electronic prescription service.

‘Patients are then free to nominate a pharmacy of their choice. We have been in contact with the practice in question to reiterate the regulations.’

Readers' comments (5)

  • Is this really censure?http://www.psnc.org.uk/pages/direction.html or just making sure that patients are given a fair choice of dispensing contractor?

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  • I am not sure we as GPs should recommend any particular pharmacy to patients.
    What I have noticed that small pharmacists provide better service then the so called 'chain' pharmacies who ask patients to collect their supplied next day when some patients need medications the same day.

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  • This is particularly worrying. It is a well established LMC precept that there should be no " direction" to a specified pharmacist to protect against probity accusations.
    There is nothing wrong in indicating several pharmacys, the best way to do this is via the NHS Choices website.
    I hope there is no member of the practice with any connection to the internet pharmacy.
    If you direct a patient to a service you or your employer have a pecunary interest in, especially where you did not mention other options, the GMC takes a very dim view.

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  • I get rather upset when a professional person whom I have come to for help supplies me with a list of practitioners to go to and invites me to chose. How am I supposed to know? There are all sorts of very good reasons why this should be part of the services doctors offer. Some pharmacists might provide a very good explanation of side effects or drug interactions etc. Others might provide a comfortable area to wait (important if patients are handicapped), or to park my care without getting a ticket. Others might be inclined to pressure clients to buy other, non-prescription items at inflated prices, or be downright rude. A doctor is in a good position to know about all these things, and patients expect this kind of advice.

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  • I must differ with Adrian that "a Doctor is in a good position to know" I cannot recall the last time I was on a Pharmacists premises.
    The issues he describes are indeed important and exactly the sort of client feedback that the NHS choices website does contain.
    The NHS strategy is also rolling out NHS 111 free telephone advice to support him in his choice.
    I agree patients are entitled to this advice from the NHS , the only difference is there are professional regulations that mean an NHS Doctor is WORST placed to answer these queries.
    There is cabinet office guidance he should read "Patients not Paperwork" 1992 that makes it clear the taxpayer does not expect an NHS Doctor to give such advice, but does commit the NHS to provide it from other services he can access.

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