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NHS England is turning “blind eye” to DSPs breaching their contracts

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NHS England is turning “blind eye” to DSPs breaching their contracts

The Company Chemists’ Association chief executive Malcolm Harrison has accused NHS England of turning “a blind eye to the rising number of pseudo distance-selling pharmacies that are breaching their contractual agreements” and called on it to revoke their contracts.

Harrison said DSPs that continue to breach regulations by failing to provide services nationally and only serving patients in their local areas were operating unchecked and threatening the bricks-and-mortar community pharmacy network despite repeated warnings from the CCA.

The body said it has been supporting a Daily Mail investigation into “the worst offending 11 pseudo-DSPs” that were only dispensing prescriptions in their local vicinities, eight of whom refused a patient’s request to dispense from outside the area.

Last year, the CCA claimed pseudo distance-selling pharmacies were leading to local pharmacy closures and insisted 72 per cent of DSPs were breaching their NHS contract while their number had increased significantly since 2015-16. The CCA also said there had been a net loss of 1,000-plus bricks-and-mortar pharmacies since the same year.

The CCA urged NHSE to investigate DSPs that are “not offering or providing their services to patients nationally,” audit all DSPs “and act against” those failing to meet their NHS contractual obligations and “challenge” DSPs to “routinely provide evidence of national service provision.” He also said NHSE should “revoke” contracts of DSPs that fail to meet their contractual requirements.

Drawing on NHS Business Services Authority data, the CCA said 163 pharmacies received at least 90 per cent of all dispensed prescriptions from GPs within a 10-mile radius and those GPs were all in a single postcode.

The CCA also said DSPs with more than 50 per cent of their prescriptions coming from GPs in a single postcode area within 10 miles of the pharmacy were “not delivering their NHS DSP contractual requirements.”

“Despite our warnings, NHS England seem to have turned a blind eye to the rising number of pseudo distance-selling pharmacies that are breaching their contractual agreements,” Harrison said.

“Genuine DSPs offer valuable access to medicines and greater choice for patients. However, pseudo-DSPs continue to disrupt the market, putting local contractors under pressure and potentially denying patients access to wider pharmaceutical care.

“It’s time NHS England wake up to the threat posed by pseudo-DSPs to the existing pharmacy network, especially as pharmacies continue to close.”

NHS England told Independent Community Pharmacist: "Distance selling pharmacies are required to deliver medicines to anyone who requests them anywhere in England, and where there is evidence that a company is failing to do so, it will be investigated by local NHS and appropriate action taken."

 

 

 

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