Deddington pharmacy row: Health campaigners say GPs should keep supplying villagers
The group says patient choice offered by the NHS for appointments and prodecures should extend to where prescriptions are dispensed.
It says an ancient rule created to protect pharmacies is now putting the vulnerable system of rural GP surgeries at risk.
The Horton/NHS campaign group’s expert, Dr Peter Fisher spoke in the light of news that a new pharmacy in Deddington means the health centre dispensary may no longer exchange patients’ prescriptions for medicines if they live within a mile of the new chemist’s shop - affecting over 2,000 patients.
Retired Horton consultant Dr Fisher said: “A pharmacy does a lot more than dispense prescriptions, for example selling over the counter remedies, toothpaste, sun cream, shaving soap, shampoo and so on.
“Providing this for a community which does not have a neighbourhood pharmacy could be welcome to many.
“The situation about dispensing GP practices is complex but the longstanding rule says that they can dispense medicines to any of their patients EXCEPT those who live within a mile of a pharmacy.
“But when a long standing practice has a newly established commercial pharmacy in its area - as in Deddington - the rule should be relaxed so that all patients accustomed to getting their medicines at the practice should be allowed to continue to do so. That is the change we ask for.
“The original rule was to stop practices taking trade from local pharmacies, so the opposite should now apply.
“The convenience for patients and the much publicised issue of ‘patient choice’ are important considerations too.”
Andy Anderson, chair of the Deddington Health Centre patient participation group said: “It was Lloyd George’s administration that decided that, in rural areas, where patients lived more than a mile from their nearest pharmacy they could ask their doctor to dispense directly to them. Medicine and technology have come a long way since 1911 and the boundaries are less rigid; not only do doctors dispense, but increasingly, pharmacists prescribe.
“This outdated legislation will force elderly or disabled residents living within a mile of the Hudson Street Pharmacy to make their way across the village and potentially wait whilst the pharmacist seeks clarification by phone on any queries.
“Government has been explicit in their drive to use pharmacists to relieve pressures on GPs by providing services such as flu vaccinations and blood glucose testing. There are two fundamental issues. Firstly, dispensing GP practices rely on the income to support other free NHS services they provide and to fund the staff for their dispensing service. The second is the potential for patients receiving confusing, un-coordinated advice from two healthcare professionals that do not communicate.
“There needs to be a close working relationship between the GP, pharmacist and patient.
“We would hope that (Delmergate) would invest in systems and services in partnership with the surgery to ensure the best possible care is provided to all our patients.”
Jayesh Patel, managing director of Delmergate said he wanted to work with doctors, not against them, and he would be delighted to meet with the Deddington GPs to discuss future working relationships for the mutual benefit of patients, doctors and the pharmacy.