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Hub-and-spoke company registers ‘significant interest’ after DH consultation

A company pledging to make hub-and-spoke dispensing work for all independent pharmacies has seen a “significant increase in interest” since the launch of a DH consultation.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) launched a consultation last month (March 16) on whether the law should be changed to allow all community pharmacies to operate under the hub-and-spoke dispensing system.

The proposals include two potential hub-and-spoke models:

 First model: Patient presents prescription to the spoke pharmacy. The pharmacy sends it to the hub, which prepares and assembles the medicines. These are sent back to the spoke, which supplies them to the patient.

Second model: Same as above but the hub sends the medicines directly to the patient’s home rather than to the retail pharmacy.

Following the launch of the consultation, HubRx – the company currently building a centralised automated dispensing hub for up to 200 independent community pharmacies across the country – said it has seen a “significant increase in interest” in its hub-and-spoke model.

 

Read more: ‘The DH’s hub-and-spoke dispensing consultation remains silent on key areas’

 

“Although the primary legislation to open up hub and spoke to independent pharmacies has been in place for more than a year and interest has been strong, there have been many unknown factors, which prevent [independents] from strategically planning when to work with a hub,” HubRx commercial director Mark Pedder told C+D last week (April 1).

Commenting on the increase in interest, Mr Pedder said: “We’re still some months away from secondary legislation being approved, but what is clear to see is that post-COVID-19, more independents than ever are looking to find new ways to operationally support a move into increasing clinical service provision.”

 

Are independents fully convinced?

 

In February, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) warned that the “vast majority” of independent pharmacies were “still sceptical” about the hub-and-spoke model, largely because of the costs involved, the lack of competition in the market and “operational challenges”.

Contractor Ian Strachan also warned that hub-and-spoke dispensing could have a “profound business impact” on independents if certain “obstacles” are not addressed.

HubRx CEO Daniel Lee explained last year that under the HubRx model, each independent “spoke” pharmacy retains the electronic prescription service (EPS) patient nomination and “crucially, purchasing margin benefits, based on the entire HubRx capacity, will be passed through to the pharmacy”.

Catch up on C+D’s Big Debate which asked: Could a hub-and-spoke model ever truly work for independent pharmacies?

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