The pharmacy bodies have welcomed news that the Department of Health (DH) is going to take longer to consider whether to expand hub-and-spoke dispensing.
The pharmacy minister revealed yesterday (June 7) that the government has been forced to slow down its plans to expand the use of hub-and-spoke dispensing.
In answer to a written question from Labour MP Stephen Pound, Alistair Burt said the responses to the hub-and-spoke consultation had “raised issues” that forced the DH to delay plans to allow independent pharmacists to legally operate automated dispensing hubs.
Mr Burt said the DH "does not envisage" changes to legislation commencing on October 1, as ministers had first suggested.
The sector reacts
Pharmacy Voice chief executive Rob Darracott said this was “very welcome news”, as the lobbying group has “significant concerns” about the DH's proposals that remain unresolved.
“No one is against attempts to create a level playing [for] pharmacy businesses, but we do not believe these [hub-and-spoke] proposals would achieve this,” he said.
Mr Darracott hopes the DH would take this opportunity to listen and engage with the sector in a “meaningful way”, he added.
The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) however said it “wholeheartedly welcomed” the government’s re-think on hub-and-spoke dispensing.
“It’s to the credit of ministers and officials that they have shifted the position in response to overwhelming evidence and reasoned arguments,” NPA chairman Ian Strachan said. “We now hope that they will show the same degree of mature reflection in relation to other elements of their proposals.”
"Ill thought out"
Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) chief executive Sue Sharpe described the hub-and-spoke proposals as “ill thought out”.
But she highlighted there has been no indication that the DH will be “prepared to grapple with the real issues or acknowledge the failings” of the wider funding consultation process.