The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has branded the government’s financial predictions for hub-and-spoke dispensing as “laughable”.
NPA board member Mike Hewitson said the organisation had assessed the Department of Health’s figures on the benefits of running a dispensing hub against the lowest base costs. But the NPA “couldn’t make the finances stack”, he told C+D.
The government had appeared to “exclude all of the inconvenient truths” about the costs of setting up a hub-and-spoke model in its consultation last month, such as capital expenditure costs, Mr Hewitson said.
Using the model will not necessarily save pharmacists any time, Mr Hewitson added, because the legal advice the NPA has taken on the proposals suggested that accuracy checks would still have to be made on prescriptions from a hub before they could be dispensed at a ‘spoke’ pharmacy.
Mr Hewitson predicted that, under a hub-and-spoke model, pharmacists will still have to dispense a much higher number of prescriptions on site than the government’s best-case calculation of 40%.
“All [hub and spoke] does is allow somebody else to stick the label on the box for you,” he said.
"Difficult" to understand business case
NPA spokesperson Gareth Jones told C+D that pharmacists would not benefit financially from any time saved from using a hub-and-spoke model unless the government commissioned additional services, such as a national minor ailments scheme.
It is “difficult” to understand the government’s business case for backing the model, he added.
Mr Jones said the NPA will be sharing its views on the consultation with its members and encouraging them to send their own responses.
“It’s important that the government gets as many informed views as possible here,” he said.
The Twitter reaction
@CandDJamesW I'm not necessarily against the concept, but there are enough legal & professional barriers to make this a non-starter.— Mike Hewitson (@MikeHewitson1) 7 April 2016
@CandDJamesW Its not in best interest of patient health and nhs economics. No point thinking any further on the matter in my opinion— Amish Patel (@amishpatel1985) 5 April 2016