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Let's start constructive discussions about dispensing doctors

The story of William Wake’s career is heart warming (The Pharmaceutical Journal 2017;298:111), but contains a detail that reveals the failure of leadership in pharmacy.

For over half a century, the pharmacy profession has not met its basic premise that all prescriptions should be dispensed under the supervision of a pharmacist and be regulated by the pharmacy regulator. Wake describes how, upon qualifying after the war, he opened a pharmacy in a Northumberland mining community at Red Row against opposition from dispensing doctors. In 2010, just a few miles to the west of Red Row, dispensing doctors in Widdrington fought a high profile ‘Save our surgery’ campaign against the opening of a village pharmacy. Today, in March 2017, NHS England is undertaking a review of rurality about ten miles south of Red Row in Dinnington where the local clinic houses a GP dispensary.

Can the current senior officers of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society at long last address the issue of dispensing doctors in light of modern professional team working in the NHS? It is not too difficult, and it is not going to open old wounds to start constructive discussion with the Royal College of General Practitioners and the General Pharmaceutical Council. Above all, the people of Northumberland and other rural areas deserve a proper pharmaceutical service like that provided by Wake.

Peter Hopley

Ponteland, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20202502

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