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Pharmacies

Volume 401: debated on Wednesday 19 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the number of NHS pharmacies required to provide NHS services to local communities; how many pharmacies dispense on behalf of the NHS; and what assessment he has made of the optimum location of these pharmacies in future. [103455]

[holding answer 17 March 2003]: Under the National Health Service Act 1977, it is the responsibility of national health service primary care trusts (PCTs) to arrange the provision of pharmaceutical services in their area. This includes determining whether it is necessary or desirable to secure adequate provision of services by granting new applications. The Health and Social Care Act 2001 also empowers PCTs to devise contracts for local pharmaceutical services which address particular local needs.We remain committed to maintaining and improving access to pharmaceutical services. We are currently considering the recommendation of the Director General of Fair Trading to remove these statutory controls and any implications it may have for this objective.As at March 2002, there were 9,756 community pharmacies in England in contract with the NHS to dispense prescriptions.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions he has had with the Scottish Executive Department of Health on the Office of Fair Trading report on the regulation of pharmacies. [103286]

[holding answer 17 March 2003]: We are in regular contact with the Scottish Executive in considering the report from the Director General of Fair Trading. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, is co-ordinating the Government's response.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the impact of the Office of Fair Trading report on control of entry regulations to the pharmacy market on his Department's strategy on the reclassification of medicines from prescription-only to pharmacy sale. [103463]

[holding answer 18 March 2003]: We are considering the report from the Director General of Fair Trading and its findings and recommendation carefully, including any implications it may have for the procedures we introduced in May 2002 to streamline the medicines reclassification system.The Government continues to encourage pharmaceutical companies to apply for their products to be reclassified where it is safe and appropriate to do so.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of the impact of the Office of Fair Trading report on control of entry regulations to the pharmacy market on his Department's strategy on the reclassification of medicines from prescription only to pharmacy sale; [102851](2) what assessment he has made of

(a) the number of pharmacies required to provide NHS services to local communities and (b) the optimum location for these pharmacies. [102853]

We are considering the report from the Director General of Fair Trading and its findings and recommendation carefully.This includes any implications it may have for the procedures we introduced in May 2002 to streamline the medicines reclassification system. The Government continues to encourage pharmaceutical companies to apply for their products to be reclassified where it is safe and appropriate to do so.The Government remains committed to maintaining and improving access to pharmaceutical services. Under the National Health Service Act 1977, it is the responsibility of NHS primary care trusts

(PCTs) to arrange the provision of pharmaceutical services in their area. This includes determining whether it is necessary or desirable to secure adequate provision of services by granting new applications. The Health and Social Care Act 2001 also empowers PCTs to devise contracts for local pharmaceutical services which address particular local needs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many responses he has received to the OFT report on the UK market for retail pharmacy services; [103183](2) what steps he is taking to safeguard access to pharmacy services for

(a) elderly people, (b) people with disabilities and (c) those reliant on public transport; [103185]

(3) what discussions he has had with pensioners' representatives on retail pharmacy services. [103184]

[holding answer 17 March 2003]: We have received around 1,000 responses so far to the Director General of Fair Trading's report on community pharmacies.I have had no recent specific discussions with representatives of pensioners about retail pharmacy services. However, I and my officials have met patient and consumer interests as well as leading pharmacy and medical organisations to hear their views on the report. These have included views on the implications of the report's recommendation for continued access to pharmacy services for older people and those with special needs. The Government remains fully committed to maintaining and improving access to national health service pharmacy services for all.