The National Rural Conference 2024

The Rural Services Network (RSN) is thrilled to announce the National Rural Conference 2024, taking place from 16th to 19th September. This virtual event, accessible via Zoom, is the premier gathering for senior officers, members, policymakers, and rural service professionals.
Further information and booking details can be found here

Dispensing Doctors' Association urges rural politicians to correct ongoing health inequalities in rural areas

Dispensing Doctors' Association urges rural politicians to correct ongoing health inequalities in rural areas

In a new ‘Call to Action’ to rural MPs, AMs and MSPs, the DDA calls on politicians to work together to create a GP service that always takes into account the unique needs of rural patients

The DDA’s Call to Action sets out three key shortfalls in current rural health service policy: 

… for patients:  

Nine million patients (13 per cent of the UK population) live in rural areas where access to a pharmacy is usually very limited. Pharmacies can offer a range of proven medicines services that promote safety and cost-efficiencies for the NHS – but these are currently unavailable to patients living in rural areas who receive NHS medicines from a dispensing GP. 

Key take-away: The rights of dispensing patients must always be respected equally when considering pharmaceutical service policy in rural areas  

… for the NHS:  

Developments such as the Electronic Prescription Service secure significant operational efficiencies throughout the NHS and for patients. However, around 1,200 dispensing practices across the UK are yet to secure NHS funding to implement this vital technology in their practices.

Key take-away: Dispensing practice policy and funding should encourage and protect innovation in dispensing practice  

… for the dispensing doctor practice:  

  1. Profit margin control measures in dispensing practice (known as the NHS  ‘clawback’) are now 25 years old; they no longer reflect the current drug marketplace and expose dispensing practices to financial penalties on  hundreds of items, affecting every practice, every time that they dispense these items.  
  2. Dispensing service fees have not been updated in line with inflation since 2019. Effectively, this has devalued fees by 20 per cent, putting immense pressure on dispensing practice operating costs and forcing cut-backs. This puts patient safety at risk and reduces local employment opportunities.   

Key take-away: Dispensing practices should never be expected to operate and dispense at a loss

DDA Chairman Dr Richard West is urging local politicians to stand up for rural constituents and correct these inequalities. 

Together, we can create national and regional GP policy
that always considers the unique needs of dispensing patients

- for the benefit of the patient, the NHS and the practice. 

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