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The waiting game

Oxygen guarantees refused

The Government has rejected demands from GPs to retain pharmacist emergency provision of home oxygen ­ despite the chaotic handover to private suppliers.

The Department of Health said the current dual-track system, in which GPs can still prescribe home oxygen on an FP10 if required urgently, will not continue indefinitely.

It follows a series of crisis meetings with pharmacists and private suppliers, during which the department apparently accepted it was at fault for the chaotic handover.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society said officials had admitted the NHS had 'failed to implement the changeover in an organised manner'.

But the department plans to amend regulations in April to formalise the handover to private suppliers. It has given guarantees that pharmacists will be reimbursed for supplying oxygen only until 31 July.

A spoksesperson told Pulse: 'The transition is ongoing and will not be limitless.'

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, which represents community pharmacists in NHS discussions, warn-ed there was a risk the chaos of the handover period would continue long-term.

'We are not confident what we've seen are only temporary flaws,' said Sue Sharpe, chief executive of the committee.

Momentum is building in the House of Commons for a review of the procedures for providing oxygen.

An early day motion expressing 'serious concern' over the handover to private suppliers had attracted 33 signatures by the time Pulse went to press.

Linda Riordan, Labour MP for Halifax, who proposed the motion, said: 'It needs to be reviewed. There's almost privatisation by stealth.'

Dr Trefor Roscoe, a GP in Sheffield, called for an inquiry to establish who was to blame for the fiasco.

He said: 'There should be some sort of central inquiry as to whose great idea this was and who should resign because they've completely cocked up.'

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