The practical implications and costs of dispensing practices’ pandemic response took centre stage in the ‘State of Dispensing’ address, which opened the DDA Annual Conference Live earlier today.
Speaking to DDA chief executive Matthew Isom in a pre-recorded address, DDA chairman Richard West accepted that there have been real challenges this year in terms of delivering the dispensing service. “We have had to think about how we deploy staff, and keep space between staff,” he said.
Opening the DDA 2020 conference, Dr West said that as the NHS faced a second COVID wave, practices should prepare to have to suddenly go into local lockdown. “This is much less certain [than before], as you won’t know until it is announced.” His advice to practices is to continue to engage volunteers, to help to continue to deliver a service that shown its value in terms of reducing journeys and keeping communities safe.
For its part, the DDA would continue to lobby for NHS England to take a more open-minded approach to using Section 61 legislation, which enables dispensing practices to ‘dispense to all’ during an emergency. Said Dr West: “It’s not about one sector getting one over the other but about helping the country in a time of great emergency. I am fearful that as we go forward through winter this provision won’t get used. Patient safety and care are much more important than regulations.”
Turning to the October 2020 dispensing fee scale, which was announced just days before the conference was broadcast, Dr West spoke of the need to revise the scale to take account of increased costs of service. He said: “Work is now more complex and time-consuming: the supply chain is not as robust as 12 months ago and delivery is more complex. All these are extra costs. Nor are we out of the woods in relation to COVID-19.”
Elsewhere in the presentation, Dr West and Mr Isom criticised bullying tactics used by some CCGs to implement the Electronic Prescription Service in dispensing practices, as well as the Falsified Medicines Directive. Looking specifically at branded generics, Dr West urged local NHS organisations to understand the long-term adverse consequences of branded generic use. He said: “Branded generics put pressure on wholesalers, manufacturers and staff and if patients aren’t able to get medicines, that can’t be good for anybody. It’s about having the right drug for the patient, and the practice and the NHS.”
Join us tomorrow from 12pm to visit the DDA Exhibition Room and hear DDA Board Member Mark Stone speak on the topic of recapturing lost dispensing from internet pharmacies (including Q&A) – 1.15pm, October 14. Register online to attend.