Why is the Government wasting £38.6m of Taxpayers money by enforcing the 1.6km Dispensing Pharmacy Law?

Figures have emerged that demonstrate enforcement of the law which outlaws those of us who live within a 1.6km (a mile) of a community pharmacy from using our doctor’s dispensary service is wasting taxpayers money up to the extent of £38.6m per annum.

The reason is that the doctor’s dispensary system provides a cheaper way for the NHS to get our medication to us but, of course, they can only supply 40% of their patients because of the ridiculous law which is not only unjust, antidemocratic and unfairly selects against only those living within the 1.6km radius of a community pharmacy, by forcing them to support it with their prescription business, but also eliminates their right to patient choice.

For full details of the figures click on this link to the DDA website; http://www.dispensingdoctor.org/comments.php?id=3149 and then write to your MP and ask him/her why, in the current climate of cuts in the NHS budget, is the Government/NHS England/D of H deliberately wasting £38.6m of taxpayers’ money? (If your MP is Frances Maude he has written to me in the past maintaining his and the governments support for keeping the law as is).

Also you can follow this link to sign a new e-petition aimed at having the law repealed; http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/60645

I have gone on record many times in saying that I support the existence of community pharmacies and believe they provide a valuable service to rural communities but the system as it stands is a nonsensical shambles.

Peter Dodds

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2 comments to Why is the Government wasting £38.6m of Taxpayers money by enforcing the 1.6km Dispensing Pharmacy Law?

  • Gerald Power

    Please explain “wasting £38.6m”.
    Crawley Down is no longer a isolated rural community which was the reason for the dispensary at the surgery.
    I support the Crawley Down pharmacy, it provides services and goods and advice not available at the health centre.
    I feel uneasy with the person diagnosing the ailment, prescribing the medicine and profiting from the sale of the prescribed drugs.
    Why does the practise offer to get prescriptions filled by another pharmacy and delivered to the patent’s home if not for profit.
    It’s a good health centre with dedicated staff but should not profit from the

    • Peter Dodds

      Dear Mr. Power,

      Thank you for your comments. I will try and answer them one by one and hopefully dispel some of the common misunderstandings there are about this subject:

      1. In order to fully appreciate why I used the term ‘wasting’ you have to follow the link http://www.dispensingdoctor.org/comments.php?id=3149 to the DDA website and read the article and comments there. However, simply put, the figures demonstrate that a doctor’s dispensary is a cheaper way of distributing medication for the NHS than use of pharmacies. The government, by insisting the law must remain in place, is deliberately employing a more expensive method of getting our drugs to us and that, in my view, is a waste of taxpayers’ money.

      2. The catchment area for the surgery is not just Crawley Down. It extends to Sharpthorne, West Hoathly, Ardingly, Copthorne, Domewood, Turners Hill and Felbridge. So, there is good reason for the surgery to be classified as falling within a ‘controlled area’ i.e. one where GP’s may, if they wish, apply to run their own dispensary. The reasons for the introduction of the law date back to The National Insurance Act 1911 and it is no longer fit for purpose in the 21st century.

      3. I too support the Crawley Down pharmacy and often pop in there, as you do, for advice and goods etc. I have affirmed my support for community pharmacies time and time again but that is not what the campaign is about as I will explain below.

      4. I respect your view that you are uneasy about the same person diagnosing an ailment and then profiting from selling the drug to cure it. That is your right and you must be allowed it exercise it by obtaining your medication from a chemist if you so choose. But, not everyone shares those concerns and those living within 1.6km of a chemist do not, by virtue of the law, enjoy equal rights as the the law forces them to use a chemist. Also, chemists are continually diagnosing minor ailments and selling their products to cure them. (we trust them to get it right but a recent Which report was highly critical of them in this area). Incidentally, since 23/4/12 suitably qualified pharmacists have been able to prescribe and dispense most controlled drugs. The key point of the campaign is that all patients should be allowed equal rights of ‘patient choice’ when it comes to who supplies their medication.

      5. For years GP surgeries have had to be run as a business. All businesses have to make profits to exist and if a GP surgery can cost the taxpayer less by running a dispensary service I would suggest that a lot of patients are quite comfortable with that concept. Also, many patients have absolute faith in the CDHC doctors prescribing and dispensing motives appreciating the benefits a ‘one stop’ service brings. Currently, out of 8036 only 2158(26.9%) are dispensing patients at CDHC. It used to be a higher ratio (about 34.3%) but a clamp down in 2012 by the then PCT, who conducted a survey and found some people were just inside the 1.6km (as the crow flies) limit caused the enforced loss of some patients to the surgery’s dispensary service.

      6. Your last point is really about the surgery maintaining some control over the drugs they prescribe. They do check that the right drugs are being dispensed. They do not derive a pecuniary benefit for doing what they do it just is part of the excellent services which we both agree they do afford to their patients.

      This subject has many more facets to it than I can cover with this response and to learn more may I suggest you have a look at my blog: http://dispensingdoctorscampaign.wordpress.com but at the end of the day it is mostly about all pateints having an equal right to choose from where they obtain their medication. Approximatley 5m people in the country are currently denied that right by the law.