Prescription direction is hurting patient care
Prescription direction fetters choice, is anti-competitive and serves as a barrier to inter-professional collaboration between pharmacists and doctors, writes John D'Arcy
One of the key concerns expressed about putting GPs in control of commissioning in the reformed NHS in England was whether there would be sufficient probity in the process. As GPs were to become both commissioners and providers of services, there was an obvious question about how this conflict of interest would be managed. To get the bill through parliament, a number of probity measures were drawn up to assuage criticism.
Pharmacy was active both in expressing concern about the potential for abuse of this position and in seeking assurances there would be sufficient probity to ensure equity and fairness in the commissioning process. Pharmacy's concerns were based on experience of direction of prescriptions: the exercise of undue influence by a medical practitioner over the choice of where a patient has their prescription dispensed.
The number of complaints about this practice has escalated recently. These accusations come hot on the heels of a series of complaints related to GPs opening exempted pharmacies in direct competition with existing pharmacies or blackmailing them for a share in their business with the threat of opening in competition.
Prescription direction fetters choice, is anti-competitive and serves as a barrier to inter-professional collaboration between pharmacists and doctors