Pharmacy: Digital Technology

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered at on 30 May 2023.

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Photo of Chris Green Chris Green Conservative, Bolton West

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential impact of (a) automated dispensing technology, (b) digital consultations and (c) other digital technologies on levels of efficiency in the pharmacy sector.

Photo of Neil O'Brien Neil O'Brien The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Between 16 March and 8 June 2022, the Government ran a consultation on proposals to enable all pharmacies to be able to access external hub dispensing services facilitating greater use of automation. An impact assessment which takes into consideration the role of automated dispensing technology in the hub and spoke model was completed as part of this work. The impact assessment is available at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1057447/hub-and-spoke-dispensing-impact-assessment.pdf

There will be synergistic efficiencies gained by using hub and spoke dispensing and original pack dispensing (OPD) supporting the highly automated processes that hubs are likely to employ. Between 1 November and 13 December 2021, the Government consulted on proposals to enable OPD. The consultation response is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/original-pack-dispensing-and-supply-of-medicines-containing-sodium-valproate/outcome/original-pack-dispensing-and-medicines-containing-sodium-valproate-consultation-response

The Delivery plan for recovering access to primary care, published on 9 May, commits to significantly improving the digital infrastructure between general practice and community pharmacy by introducing interoperable digital solutions to support secure communications between general practice and community pharmacies. There are no plans to make an assessment of the potential impact of digital consultations and other digital technologies on levels of efficiency.

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