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Call for ‘rural accord’ for Scottish GPs

Scottish GPs need a ‘rural accord’ such as that afforded to their colleagues south of the border to stem a sharp rise in dispensing practices closing their doors, the Dispensing Doctors’ Association has warned.

According to DDA, dispensing practice numbers in Scotland have been decreasing since 2008 with the decline escalating in 2012/13.

It says that current arrangements mean any rural practice in Scotland has to stop their dispensing services if a pharmacy opens in the area - which may leave them financially unviable.

Since 2008, Scotland has lost almost one in five of its dispensing practices, and in the past year alone nine dispensing practices have disappeared leaving just 107 to deliver this vital health service in Scotland’s remotest areas.

In a briefing to the Scottish Government, the DDA said this loss of dispensing practices has affected almost 40,000 Scottish patients, many of them elderly and infirm.

The call comes following the publication of the ‘Wilson’ review of NHS Pharmaceutical Services in Scotland, which concluded that there should be a moratorium on new pharmacy openings in Scotland until GMS practices were given sufficient funding not to be reliant on their dispensing income and the payment arrangements for pharmacies and dispensing practices were fairer.

DDA chief executive Matthew Isom said: ‘The tragic events of Mid-Staffordshire are a clear demonstration of what can happen when financial pressures are allowed to interfere with patient care.

‘The greatest security for Scottish practices will result from combining our recommendations, along with the other conclusions of the Wilson review.’