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Philip Dunne appointed to health department

New minister has rural interest and dispensing GP awareness

July 19th 2016

Tagged: political news Rurality England

By Ailsa Colquhoun

Philip Dunne has been announced as a health minister in the cabinet reshuffle following the appointment of Theresa May as prime minister.

The Ludlow MP moves from a four-year stint in the defence department, and this is believed to be his first appointment in health. It is not yet clear whether his portfolio will include pharmaceutical services.

During his time in politics, Mr Dunne has formerly chaired the APPG on rural services, and during this time he discussed issues such as the implications of national funding formulae for rural health.

He also shows awareness of dispensing doctor issues: in 2007 as a member of the Public Accounts Committee he contributed to a report on prescribing costs in primary care in which he pointed out: “patients in rural areas tend to have a closer relationship with their GP and are perhaps more resistant to change than patients in an urban area”.

He also noted that GPs that also operate as dispensing practices “generate quite a significant proportion of their remuneration from dispensing activities” and asked: “Is there not an inherent conflict for them in seeking to reduce the cost of prescribing with their own remuneration?”

Professor Colin-Thome´ responded: “Dispensing doctors provide an excellent service where pharmacies are not available. In fairness, the average costs and prescribing patterns were very similar, and there were only one or two small examples in which that was not the case.”

Mr Dunne was also involved in discussions relating to the 2008 white paper consultation on pharmacy services, and asked whether dispensing GPs will continue to be allowed to dispense.

Mr Dunne is a lifelong Conservative and has campaigned at elections since 1974. He was brought up on the family farm near Ludlow, for which he has had responsibility since 1987. He lives near Ludlow, which he has regarded as his home town all his life.

He joins health secretary Jeremy Hunt, who has survived the reshuffle.