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NHS England revives hub-and-spoke agenda in pursuit of long-term plan

Wider use of the hub-and-spoke model may be required to increase dispensing efficiency, NHS England has said in response to its long-term plan.

In its long-awaited strategy document, published on Monday (January 7), the commissioner said it aims to “explore further efficiencies” in community pharmacy, by reforming the sector's “wider supply arrangements”.

When asked by C+D what shape these reforms will take, NHS England said changes to government regulations around, for example, hub-and-spoke dispensing, may be required.

New technology and automation presents exciting opportunities to increase the efficiency of dispensing, while safely freeing up clinical time for pharmacists to spend caring for patients, the commissioning body claimed.

In 2016, the government consulted the sector on its plans to expand the use of hub-and-spoke dispensing. This has yet to result in a change to any regulations.

The same year, NHS England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge was forced to backtrack on his “inadvertently misleading” statement implying that a 3% dispensing error rate in England could be reduced to “0.00001%”, if the country adopted the “large-scale automated dispensing facilities” used in Sweden.

Opportunities for pharmacists across “all sectors”

Asked by C+D to comment on community pharmacy’s role in the long-term plan yesterday (January 8), Dr Ridge did not mention the sector explicitly, instead saying: “The long-term plan is full of fantastic opportunities for pharmacy professionals working together across all sectors.

“It builds on the strengths of clinical pharmacy in hospitals and sets out plans for a great future for clinical practice in primary care, urgent care and care homes.”

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have an “essential role” in the NHS long-term plan, by reducing overmedication and helping people to live healthier lives, Dr Ridge added.

Does your pharmacy operate a hub-and-spoke dispensing model?

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