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a green cross imageApril 12 2018

Changes introduced in 2013 to manage pharmacy numbers, along with changes to the terms of services, haver generally had their intended effect.

A review published by the Department of Health and Social Care says that the regulatory changes “have largely achieved the original policy objectives which remain relevant and appropriate for the regulation of NHS pharmaceutical services in England.”

In particular, the review noted that “the 2013 Regulations have slowed the growth in the number of community pharmacies, in line with the original policy objective to mitigate excessive provision of NHS pharmaceutical services in areas already meeting demand”.

In addition, “access to NHS pharmaceutical services in England is good and patients generally have reasonable choice about how and where they access services.”

However, it notes that “there remains a degree of ‘clustering’” of pharmacies, and there have been “a number of unintended consequences,” particularly in relation to distance selling premises (also known as distance selling pharmacies or DSPs).

The review makes recommendations about these, as well as other amendments to help ease the burden on pharmacy businesses. Among the recommendations are:

  • some types of relocation could be fast tracked via a more streamlined and simplified application route;
  • more analysis is needed of the viability and usage of pharmacies granted a NHS contract based on them being open 100 hours per week;
  • the Pharmaceutical Needs Assessments (PNA) process could be reviewed to help increase the quality and consistency of use.

The NHS (Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2013 replaced the 2007 regulations. The Secretary of State was required to review the regulations after five years, and will conduct a further review in 2023.

The Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) was involved throughout the review process and has welcomed the report’s recommendations for consultation and the approach taken.

The CCA said it “supports all efforts to improve the flexibility of regulation in our evolving sector and to reduce unnecessary burden on contractors.” It has welcomed the efforts to improve consistency in interpreting and implementing the Regulations at a local level, and also to address unintended consequences that the CCA had previously identified.

Malcolm Harrison, Chief Executive, commented: “I think that it has been very helpful and somewhat refreshing that the Department has effectively and consistently engaged with stakeholders throughout this Review process.

“In particular, it is reassuring to see that our concerns around prescription direction have been considered and reflected in the proposals for consultation, as this is something our members have been concerned about for some time. We look forward to continuing to work closely with DHSC on these important matters.”

PSNC has given the report a “cautious welcome,” saying that it “confirms that the Regulations remain important to ensure the provision of stable, safe and effective NHS pharmaceutical services in England, for the benefit of the public.”

It added: “PSNC will consider and explore the review recommendations with DHSC, but we are pleased that many of the recommendations adopt proposals and submissions from PSNC.”

Links:
CCA     
DHSC announcement   
‘The National Health Service (Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2013. Post Implementation Review’            
PSNC comment            

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