General Practitioners (Drug Dispensing)

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th June 1993.

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Photo of Brian H Donohoe Brian H Donohoe , Cunninghame South 12:00 am, 9th June 1993

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from residents of Springside and Crosshouse on preservation of the system of general practitioners dispensing drugs to their patients; and what response he has made.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has not received any representations from residents of Springside and Crosshouse on the preservation of the system of general practitioners dispensing drugs to their patients.

Photo of Brian H Donohoe Brian H Donohoe , Cunninghame South

That answer surprises me because the service that is on offer in Crosshouse is under severe threat. A chemist has decided to open for business, and that jeopardises a long-term solution that was in place, whereby Crosshouse general practitioners dispensed drugs themselves. Given that the Minister has heard nothing, will he meet my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock and loudoun (Mr. McKelvey) and myself to discuss the matter?

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

I assure the hon. Gentleman that I understand the situation. He is correct in saying that a Crosshouse pharmacist applied for and was granted a national health service dispensing contract. The health board received correspondence from Crosshouse and Springside residents and a petition from Crosshouse community association. The board's pharmacy practice committee was aware of that correspondence when it reached its decision. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the matter went to the national appeals panel on 27 April, when the pharmacist's application was upheld. It would not be sensible for my right hon. Friend to intervene, given that all the appropriate procedures were observed.

Photo of Mr William McKelvey Mr William McKelvey , Kilmarnock and Loudoun

The point that the Minister is missing is that elected representatives have tried to intervene and we have been told by the council that we have no authority to act on behalf of our constituents—which I think is a damned cheek. More than 90 per cent. of the people in Crosshouse said that they were happy with the situation as it existed, but that was completely ignored by the committee and the appeals committee. What kind of patients charter is it when 90 per cent. of people are satisfied with the service but are overruled by a committee which takes no consideration whatsoever of their views?

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

The point is that a pharmacist did apply for a NHS dispensing contract, which was granted. I think there are powerful general arguments for continuing the separation of prescribing and dispensing—where that is generally sensible—because where there is such a separation the person writing the prescription will not be in a position to gain financially depending on the choice of drugs prescribed.