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Poor boy of the NHS

From Mr C. Morris, MRPharmS

The row over pharmacies ordering repeat medicines has finally hit The Journal (PJ, 18/25 August 2012, p171). I am so sick of the Pavlovian response to this issue by primary care trusts, NHS groups and other pharmacists.

I actually work for a multiple that offers the managed repeat system (MRS) but I first saw a similar idea done many years ago by an independent pharmacy. The then equivalent of the PCT stopped him from doing it then because “pharmacists cannot be trusted”.

I am a relief pharmacist and I always ensure that medicines are checked before they go out so that patients only take what they need, and that is the company policy. So, sorry, we do not have a mandate to screw the NHS over for every penny we can make out of the service and most of the staff I work with follow this ruling.

The things I do not get are the arguments against MRSs. The news item quotes NHS Highlands saying pills were ordered after two months instead of six and levothyroxine was ordered three times when not asked for. These errors may happen but, I ask, who has logged the times when prescriptions have come from surgeries with every item printed when only one or two were requested?

So was there no waste before MRS? Were there no returns of unused medicines before this “terrible” scheme? I believe the biggest waste is caused by people ordering medicines when they are not needed and that will still go on regardless of how the prescriptions are ordered. Our own PCT favours repeat dispensing, which is the scheme preferred by GPs. Funnily enough I find that the surgeries that really like repeat dispensing are the most vocal about the MRS causing medicines waste. 

How no one can see that this is purely because the GPs prefer repeat dispensing because it saves them work I do not know. How can one cite pharmacist NHS fraud as an argument to stop MRS where the surgery still has the final say on whether a prescription is printed and replace it with a scheme where a pharmacy is given six months of all the patient’s medicines and carte blanche to order them when they like?

This speaks to me of either blind stupidity or a lack of courage to cross the all-powerful GP.

But what really makes me mad about this argument is that it highlights why pharmacy is, and will remain, the poor boy of the NHS.

When dentistry is done down, dentists refuse to work for the NHS. When GPs are done down, they take industrial action. When pharmacy is done down, we bend over and say “please sir, can we have another?”. And, without fail, half of those queued up to dish out the punishment are fellow pharmacists.

Chris Morris



Citation: Electronicjuice URI: 11106125

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