Headlines: August 20th, 2004

Better accesses to pharmacies will result from sweeping away many of the restrictions which limit the service provided to the public. Companies will be able to set up on-line and mail order pharmacies without having traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ outlets. This will bring in a range of new providers of pharmaceutical services.The new legislation provides, in some cases, for the removal of the requirement for companies considering opening a pharmacy and dispensing NHS prescriptions to apply to their local primary care organisation for a contract. The ‘control of entry test’ will not apply providing the proposed pharmacy is part of a large shopping development, or will be open for more than 100 hours each week, or it will be part of consortia developing new one-stop primary care centres.

Health Minister Rosie Winterton said: “These reforms continue to support the Government’s aim to put the needs of patients first, ensuring that local health services reflect the changing lifestyles and needs of patients. We are maintaining the vital role played by community pharmacies, particularly in poorer and rural areas, many of whom are small businesses. “We are determined to improve access to, and the choice of, pharmacy services and to encourage innovation and excellence so that community pharmacy is recognised as a key player in the provision of NHS services.