These regulations introduce a new market entry test based on pharmaceutical needs assessments, and remove the current exemptions for new applications for pharmacies undertaking to provide pharmaceutical services for at least 100 hours per week, pharmacies in one stop primary care centres, and pharmacies in large retail developments. As included in the consultation on the draft regulations, the exemption for distance selling pharmacies continues, but with strengthened conditions.
The removal of the exemption for new 100 hour pharmacies will boost the confidence of pharmacy contractors to invest in their services, and the drain on the NHS purse caused by clustering of additional pharmacies that bring about little improvement in access will also be greatly reduced.
Since the Galbraith report in 2006, the Health Act 2009, and the consultation on the draft of the new regulations, there has been recognition that the exemption for 100 hour pharmacies has extended far beyond what was anticipated when the government introduced the four limited exemptions. PSNC made repeated calls for a moratorium until the revised market entry test could be introduced, and the massive growth in applications particularly over the last 12 months demonstrates why a moratorium was needed.
Commenting on the regulations, Steve Lutener, Head of Regulation, PSNC said:
"Many pharmacies will be relieved to see these long awaited regulations, but will be asking why it has taken so long, when the primary legislation had indicated the government’s intention as long ago as 2009."
Commenting on the announcement, Sue Sharpe, Chief Executive PSNC said:
"Putting behind us PSNC’s frustration that these changes were not implemented in a more timely manner, we look forward to seeing PCTs working with their Local Pharmaceutical Committees and pharmacy contractors, to use these provisions to plan pharmacy openings and the commissioning of new services where they will really bring benefits in access to pharmacy services."