- Government unveils aim for health service to “keep pace with digital revolution”
- Pledges to review sector's payment and regulation systems
- Competition watchdog criticises regulations that restrict “number and location” of pharmacies
The government will ensure patients have access to more online and click-and-collect pharmacy services in an attempt to save the NHS money, it has said.
It also pledged to examine the sector's payment and regulation systems to ensure they are "efficient [and] encourage competition and innovation", in a policy document on Monday (November 30).
The health service must "keep pace with the digital revolution" by ensuring patients can access their medicines “at the touch of a button”, the Treasury and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills said in the document.
They highlighted the need to "facilitate online, delivery-to-door and click-and-collect pharmacy services”.
"The proportion of adults using the internet to make a purchase increased to 74% in 2014. Despite this, less than 10% of adults ordered their medicine online," they said.
"The government wants to ensure hardworking families leading busy lives and an increasingly elderly population with complex needs can receive a home delivery service," they added.
Saving NHS England money
The Department of Health (DH) told C+D it is looking into the proposals as one of the ways to achieve NHS England's search for £22 billion in efficiency savings.
“This is one of those efficiencies it is likely will be made... watch this space,” a DH spokesperson told C+D yesterday (December 1).
In its response to the document, which sets out a range of ways the government will look to increase competition across Britain’s economy and “bring down bills” for families, government competition watchdog the Competition Market Authority (CMA) criticised regulations that restrict the "number and location of pharmacies".
"These restrictions deny customers the convenience they take for granted when buying other products," said CMA chief executive Alex Chisholm. Removing them would save patients “time and money”, he added.