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GPC warns DH about practices directing patients to preferred pharmacies

The GPC has written to ministers to voice concern over a number of ‘prescription direction’ schemes that are pointing patients to specific pharmacies to have their prescriptions processed.

In the letter, dated 27 June 2014 and jointly signed with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee and Pharmacy Voice, the BMA warns that influencing a patient’s choice of pharmacy has the potential to undermine patient relationships and damage trust and cooperation between healthcare professionals.

One such scheme cited by the letter apparently proposed that a practice would receive a ‘substantial’ sum from business directed through their surgeries.

In the letter, representatives for all three organisations said: ‘We are concerned that this could not only be classed as prescription direction but that it could also have an impact on rent abatement under the Premises Costs Directions.’

‘This would mean that there may be both regulatory issues and potential loss of income.’

The joint statement on prescription direction accompanying the letter incorporates a list of activities that practice managers and pharmacists should avoid in order to maintain good practice, including recommending particular pharmacies to patients, misrepresenting a practice’s relationship with a pharmacy, and allowing patients to believe that the care they receive is affected by their choice of pharmacy.

The letter invites the Department of Health to ‘urgently’ consider the impact of such schemes and how to deal with them.