For improving local dispensing arrangements, patients need to receive their NHS prescribed medicines promptly, efficiently, conveniently and to high quality. NHS England is responsible for ensuring that there are adequate arrangements in place for the dispensing of medicines so that this happens across the country. We keep this under constant review.
I have been contacted by a number of disabled constituents who have encountered difficulties receiving dispensed drugs from their local GPs because they fall outside geographical criteria as of last year, therefore adding a significant financial burden. Given instances where dispensing GPs have blocked the arrival of some local pharmacies in parts of my constituency, will the Minister give some consideration to how this discrepancy could be remedied?
I am sorry to hear about the difficulties of my hon. Friend’s constituents. There is a provision within the regulations to enable patients who have serious difficulty in getting to a pharmacy because of the distance involved or the lack of transport to receive dispensing services from a doctor. Doctors should certainly not be blocking the addition of local pharmacies. If my hon. Friend writes to me, I can look into the matter in greater detail.
Taking into account the immeasurable value that community pharmacies provide for some of the most vulnerable people in sections of our society, does the Minister agree that, when it comes to Government budgets, these dispensing services should be included in any ring-fencing that goes on around front-line services?