Central dispensing hubs could potentially deal with two thirds of England’s prescriptions, the country’s chief pharmaceutical officer has suggested.
“Large, centralised dispensing facilities” already exist and the law should open up the model to independent pharmacies, Keith Ridge told the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s conference on Monday (September 14).
“Large-scale dispensing. We knew it was coming – well now it’s here,” he told delegates at the event in Birmingham.
Mr Ridge called for legislation prohibiting independent pharmacies from using a hub-and-spoke model to be lifted “as soon as possible”, so “all community pharmacies” could benefit.
"It could be that such facilities will be capable of dealing with two thirds of dispensing volume in community pharmacy," he said.
If “implemented well”, these hubs would make dispensing “more efficient and safer” and free up "highly trained staff" to work more closely with patients, Mr Ridge stressed.
“While we’re at it, let’s make the whole patient experience more convenient through click-and-collect [and] home delivery services, and generally digitalising a good chunk of traditional pharmacy practice,” he said.
“The future is clinical, underpinned by efficient and effective use of technology,” he added. He forecast there would be "much closer examination of how taxpayers' money is spent on pharmacy" in the near future and said a more clinical role "must quickly dominate pharmacy practice".
Mr Ridge also used his speech to refer to NHS England’s plans to pilot 250 pharmacists in GP practices as a “key development for collaborative, cross-sector pharmacy practice”.
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