It is “too early” for the government to base its pharmacy funding decisions on hub-and-spoke technology, Boots has said.
The Department of Health (DH) believes that changing the law to allow independent pharmacies to dispense medicines from a central hub will lower contractors' operating costs, it said last week (January 22). Encouraging the use of this model is one way to make the sector more "efficient and innovative", it said in a briefing document explaining the planned 6% cut to pharmacy funding.
But Boots pharmacy operations director Peter Bainbridge told C+D that automated dispensing is “in its infancy”. "It is too early for the government to make settlement decisions [based] on this technology," he said.
Boots' centralised dispensing system
While centralised dispensing can “support...face-to-face advice from a health professional”, it must not replace it, he stressed. "[Pharmacists] need to be where people live and work," he added.
Boots is in the "early stages" of piloting its dispensing support pharmacy, which is an “alternative” to the hub-and-spoke model, Mr Bainbridge told C+D.
The pharmacy, which launched in Preston in 2014, is designed to “free up pharmacists” from dispensing and allow them to spend more time with patients, he said. The system differs from a hub-and-spoke model because the prescription remains in-store at all times.
England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge predicted last year that hubs could dispense up to two-thirds of England’s prescriptions. Last November, the government announced that a consultation into changing the law to allow independents to operate hub-and-spoke dispensing will begin "early" this year.
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