Financial threats to rural dispensing practices

Please send information about pressures on services to rural patients produced by the falling income to your dispensing practice via the email below.

There is increasing concern that dispensing doctors are facing financial threats which could undermine the viability of many rural practices.  With the introduction of the new dispensing fee scale in October leading to a fall in fee per item from £2.14 to £1.95, this has been brought into sharp focus, as at a stroke this reduces the income of the average dispensing practice by over £850 per month.

The major threat is however the shortfall in reimbursement, which, as it worsens, is already leading to anecdotes of loss of rural health services, and staff, and at worst will lead to further surgery closures.

The Dispensing Doctors Association has been campaigning nationally to make the Government aware that many medicines are now being dispensed at a loss. There have been calls for the Government to provide emergency relief and to carry out an urgent review of reimbursement procedures.  They are also trying to generate awareness of the financial threat to dispensing surgeries amongst MPs and Prospective Parliamentary Candidates at a local level. Guidance notes on contacting your local politicians are available from the DDA.

A cost enquiry on Pharmacy is due to report in April, and a similar enquiry for Dispensing Doctors is due to start later in 2010. In order to offer robust evidence to this enquiry the DDA needs information from individual practices on the impact of these income changes (eg fee scale, loss of manufacturer discounts despite continuing clawback, catM price pressures). In particular, though, the DDA needs evidence from practices about the impact of falling income on reduction in staff levels, facilities such as branch surgeries, and services, all of which will have an adverse effect on local rural health services.

The DDA would be very grateful if any relevant information could be sent to the admin office jeff.lee@dispensingdoctor.org

Thanks to Aidan Egleston of the DDA for this article.

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