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PSNC: Move to dispensing hubs is 'madness'

No evidence that hub-and-spoke model delivers patient care, says chief executive Sue Sharpe

Increasing the use of dispensing hubs would be “madness”, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has warned.

England's chief pharmaceutical officer for England Keith Ridge suggested in September that central dispensing hubs could deal with two thirds of the country’s prescriptions, but PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe said this is a “totally unevidenced assertion”.

Ms Sharpe has seen “nothing to support [the] assumption” that supplying more medicines from hubs would be cheaper or maintain “an acceptable level of patient care”, she told the local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) conference in Birmingham last week (November 4).

“What’s the impact on demand for GP consultations [and] urgent care going to be, if people are getting their medicines dispensed and supplied as an Amazon click-and-collect service?” Ms Sharpe said. “As far as I know, [it] hasn’t been explored.”

"Slaughtering the smaller players"

C+D revealed last month that the government is looking into legally allowing independents to operate a hub-and-spoke model, and Ms Sharpe said the increased use of dispensing hubs could “divide the sector” by “picking off and slaughtering the smaller players”.

“Is it an attack on the network? Is it an attempt to destabilise the whole of the community pharmacy sector [and] reduce it to a mere distributor?” she asked.

Ms Sharpe pointed to the USA, where she claimed that the proportion of the pharmacy sector that uses “remote” dispensing services has “plateaued at 20%”, “despite really strong financial incentives”. “That’s in a country with a massive landmass and population way in excess of ours,” she added.

Last month, contractors warned that hub-and-spoke dispensing would “change pharmacy beyond all recognition” by reducing interaction between patients and pharmacists.


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