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asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether the practice of general practitioners both prescribing and dispensing medicines affects the Government's policy of maximising patient choice.
All General Practitioners (GPs) may prescribe for their patients. GPs may also dispense medicines to their patients in certain circumstances including that the patient would have serious difficulty in obtaining because of distance or inadequacy of communication or that the patient lives more than 1.6 kilometres from the nearest pharmacy.
The principle of GPs dispensing has historically been seen as an exceptional measure, normally where there may not be a convenient community pharmacy and patients have no choice but to travel a considerable distance to the nearest pharmacy.
The choice of having medicines dispensed by a GP is currently one that is available to less than around 7 per cent of patients. As part of the consultation promised in the White Paper Pharmacy in England: Building on Strengths—Delivering the Future we will be consulting on proposals making changes to the control of market entry for dispensing medicine that will examine options for improving services and patient access. Consultation over any proposed changes will be carried out late in the summer. Copies of the White Paper are available in the Library.