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Hancock tells parliament 'French model' is his pharmacy 'inspiration'

Matt Hancock said he would visit a pharmacy in Derbyshire later this month (credit: Parliament)
Matt Hancock said he would visit a pharmacy in Derbyshire later this month (credit: Parliament)

Health secretary Matt Hancock has reiterated to parliament that he is inspired by “the French model” of community pharmacy.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday (November 5), Mr Hancock said he looked to the French model for inspiration on “keeping people out of hospital and in supporting GP surgeries by doing more”.

This is where UK pharmacies have a “hugely important role”, he said.

C+D exclusively revealed last month that Mr Hancock intends to “move towards the French model for pharmacies, where they do more”.

Expanding on Mr Hancock’s comments, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) later told C+D that pharmacies on the continent offer a wider range of services to the community.

“Visit Derbyshire, not France”

Mr Hancock made his latest comments in response to a question from Conservative MP for Hitchin and Harpendem Bim Afolami, on pharmacy’s role in the prevention of ill health.

During the debate, the Conservative MP for Mid-Derbyshire, Pauline Latham, said her constituency has “an amazing group of community pharmacies that are saving people going into hospital and getting them out quicker”.

“[Mr Hancock] does not need to go to France; he can come to Mid-Derbyshire instead,” she said. “I invite my right honourable friend to come and see them.”

In response, Mr Hancock said: “I will actually be in Derbyshire later this month visiting a neighbouring constituency, but it looks like I have just put another stop on the itinerary.”

The debate followed the launch of the DH’s ‘Prevention is better than cure’ strategy, in which the government said community pharmacies will play a stronger role in its plans to make prevention “an integral part” of its long-term plan for the NHS.

Read 10 facts about the French model of community pharmacy here.

Does UK community pharmacy have anything to learn from the French model?

Mahesh shah, Pharmacist Director

Does he really know what he is talking about or are his comments eminating I from unusual sources of sound (I "suppos......" french style?). 

I have not visited a French pharmacy in recent years but from past visits there was very little or no over-the-counter prescribing/recommendations for minor self-limiting conditions. There was in fact a reluctance of have on display many OTC medicines, most being stored in drawers behind the counter. So how does this fit-in to the "prevent" and "self-care" agendas?

Big focus on homeopathic medicines, natural ingredients, health and beauty. 

One man, one pharmacy model (plus interest in 3 more).

Mushroom experts.

Back then, original pack dispensing with no labelling by pharmacist (although I believe this might have changed a bit).

Some 15 yrs ago, I was invited to present to French Pharmacists. They laughed when I suggested that there would be move to reduced margins, greater use of generics etc. However, they seem to have negotiated a higher dispensing fee to dispense generic products.

I believe they still have price-regulation of medicines in France, something that is unlawful in the UK. Average prices ~ 25-30% higher in France. 

~50p prescription charge in France

Pharmacies have a monopoly over the sale of non-prescription medicines.

High prescription items -  France is renowned for high level of consumption of medicines (and wine). High expenditure compared to UK. ~30% generics vs > 80% in UK.

And French Pharmacists have gone on strike in protest of proposed deregulation of pharmacies. Upheld in European courts on grounds that restrictions justified on public health grounds!

No "distance selling" pharmacies

So will Mr Hancock on balance prefer the Frech system in its enterity?  If so, I am with him. Imagine - no chains, no competition from supermarkets, closed for lunch,  the NHS funding for placebos.....oops, i mean homeopathic medicines, ability to strike if DoH fails to negotiate realistically (even PSNC might agree with me for once!). Veve la France



Charles Whitfield Bott, Pharmacist Director

I like what he has to say, even if it will be a while before the words become some sort of reality.

A big improvment on Hunt, who did not know what a Pharmacy was, French or English.

NIRMAL BAJARIA, Superintendent Pharmacist

Matt would you like us to stock up on suppositories and homeopathic preparations and what are we going to do about Pharmacy chains ?


Delectable Skeptic, Community pharmacist

"4.1.2 Remuneration and regulation

As of January 2015, pharmacists are paid a fixed sum per pack of medicine dispensed, in exchange for a reduction in the price-based margins. The fixed dispensing fees are €1.02 peri tem for reimbursed medicines, and €0.51 for prescriptions which have five or more medicines. The remuneration margins for pharmacies are calculated with reference to the manufacturer price of medicines (LEEM, 2016): 

 Up to €22.90: 25.5% of the retail price.

 Between €22.91 and €150.00: 8.5% of the retail price.

 Over €150.00: 6.0% of the retail price."


Sounds great. No more losses on branded generics. Actually make a profit on each item dispensed.


Source: Remuneration and regulation of community pharmacy Literature review

cardiff pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

The question i would like many scripts per month does an average french pharmacy do?

If we could get remunerated as we are BUT for only doing a similar amount of scripts per month as the french do then i would be happy!!

Allan Wilson, Community pharmacist

He would be better looking at the community pharmacy contract in Scotland

H Saw, Community pharmacist

What is heck is this French Model anyway? A model with more funding? as if our community pharmacies merely doing a dispensing machine's job.

Lilian Anekwe, Editorial

We have published an article looking more closely at "the French model" of community pharmacy. It is linked to in bold at the bottom of this article.

Lilian Anekwe,

Deputy editor, C+D. 

cardiff pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Hi Lilian,

how many prescriptions a month on average do French pharmacies do.



Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

Why has he become so obsessed with the French? If they have more pharmacies per the same population number, then why is the government intent on closing us down? I’m either confused, or so stressed I’ve read the whole article wrong! Zut! 

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

... as in the previous article related to this quoting figures. 

'Allo ‘Allo - God moaning. Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once.

Do you want zee good news or zee bad news?

The good news is ve is moving to zee French pharmacy model.

The bad news is as far as community pharmacy is concerened there eis no pis* for zee wicked.

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