Responding to a Parliamentary Question, minister Alistair Burt said the Department of Health would like to "explore in more detail with stakeholders' representatives before progressing any legislation". He said the Department did not now envisage changes to the legislation commencing on October 1st.
Mr Burt said the responses to the consultation had "raised issues" around removing the bar on 'hub and spoke' dispensing between retail pharmacies that are not part of the same business.
PSNC responded forcibly to the consultation, pointing out the many fundamental flaws in the proposals and consultation process; crucially, that the narrative of the consultation did not match the proposals in the draft legislation. We are delighted that the Government has acknowledged some of the issues and hope that in these further discussions it will recognise all of the shortcomings in its proposals.
PSNC Chief Executive Sue Sharpe said:
"The proposals in the 'hub and spoke' consultation have been ill thought out and the effect of the proposed legislation has not been made clear to pharmacy or the public. We have seen a similar approach throughout the wider proposals laid out in the Government's 17th December letter on 'Community Pharmacy in 2016/17 and beyond', but as yet there has been no indication from the Department of Health that it will be prepared to grapple with the real issues or acknowledge the failings of that wider consultation process."
You can read the PSNC's responses to both the 'hub and spoke' consultation and the "Community Pharmacy 2016/17 and beyond" letter here.
NPA welcomes Government re-think on Hub and Spoke
The NPA (who have been spearheading the campaign do community Pharmacy) also wholeheartedly welcomes the Government’s re-think.
Responding to the news, NPA Chairman Ian Strachan said today:
“The Department of Health has listened to the growing chorus of concern in and around the pharmacy sector on this issue. The NPA has been at the forefront of the independent sector’s response and our detailed work on the issue has been key to achieving a unified position across the sector. So we are naturally delighted that the Department is going back to the drawing board, which has been our request from the outset. It’s to the credit of Ministers and officials that they have shifted the position in response to overwhelming evidence and reasoned arguments. We now hope that they will show the same degree of mature reflection in relation to other elements of their proposals. The entire policy package foisted on the sector in December should now be sense checked in the light of this development. At the very least, it surely calls into question the timing of the proposed funding cuts, which the DH has suggested could be absorbed because of the supposed cost savings from hub and spoke.
Throughout, we have worked closely with our Pharmacy Voice and PSNC colleagues and pharmacy bodies elsewhere in the UK. The news today shows the power of unity within the sector. We now look forward to being part of the detailed discussions, bringing the widespread and genuine concerns of the independent sector to the table. In no way is this the end of the matter. Nevertheless, I think we can allow ourselves to celebrate today. It is a vindication of our approach and a victory for common sense”.
The full statement from Alastair Burt reads:
“The consultation on changes to medicines legislation including on ‘hub and spoke’ dispensing did not rely on any specific safety profile of hub and spoke dispensing. Instead, the consultation document specifically asked consultees to provide evidence on the issue. Nevertheless, the responses to the consultation have raised issues around removing the bar on ‘hub and spoke’ dispensing between retail pharmacies that are not part of the same business that the Department would like to explore in more detail with stakeholders’ representatives before progressing any legislation. It does not now envisage changes to the legislation on this issue commencing on 1 October 2016.” and can viewed here.