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GPs lose right to dispense drugs

6th May 2008

Three million people may lose their entitlement to get drugs from their local doctor because of new government plans.

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The plans were published in a White Paper in April. They detail a complete rethink of the pharmacy service, where pharmacists will be given the power to write prescriptions for some illnesses.

The new plans will mean 57 million consultations annually will be transferred from GPs to pharmacists. This will save £400 million per year by 2011.

However the new plans have upset some doctors' groups as MPs have also planned changes relating to how people in rural location can get their prescriptions.

Under the current system, people who live further than one mile from the closest pharmacy gain the entitlement to have their medication provided by their GP. The new system means that patients would only be entitled to this service if their GP's surgery was at least 1.6km from the nearest pharmacy.

1,100 surgeries with 5,500 GPs in England are entitled to give medication to 3.5 million patients. Richard West, chairman of the Dispensing Doctors Association, confirmed: "We expect a majority of dispensing practices to lose their right to dispense."

GPs who give out medication have a salary of £127,000 annually, in comparison to £107,000 for other doctors.

Dr West said this type of work was actually worth an average of £40,000, so doctors who dispensed and lost their rights under the new rules would see a fall in income to £87,000.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said the new changes would be discussed with the BMA and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee in late 2008.

 


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