Remote Order Entry Pharmacy
Remote Order Entry Pharmacy Regulations To Be Relaxed
Control of remote order entry pharmacy contracts in England is to be loosened, but retained, Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt announced.
Under proposals put forward as the Government's long-awaited "balanced package of measures", control of entry will be lifted from pharmacies in large shopping developments, from those open for more than 100 hours a week and from pharmacies in one-stop primary care centres. Internet and mail-order pharmacy will also be made easier to establish (see Panel below).
Proposed exceptions to control of entry
Under the Government's proposals, remote order entry pharmacy will be removed from:
These pharmacies, however, will have a duty to provide a full and prescribed range of services laid down by the local primary care trust.
• Internet and mail-order pharmacies will be permitted in line with provisions in the Health and Social Care Act 2001, subject to services being agreed within the proposed national contractual framework
However, the Government has rejected the Office of Fair Trading recommendation that remote order entry pharmacy should be abolished in its entirety. In a written statement Mrs Hewitt said: "We do not believe that simple deregulation is the best way to achieve our aims." She added that the Government "intends to move cautiously in the direction recommended by the OFT" but that "this is not the time to move to a fully deregulated system".
A shortage of pharmacists, which is expected to persist for some years, and plans to expand the role of pharmacists within the National Health Service were given as reasons as to why the time was not right for full deregulation.
The regulations governing remote order entry pharmacy will be modified incorporating new criteria for the "necessary or desirable" test. Primary care trusts will have an obligation "to promote consumer choice and harness the benefits of increased competition", Mrs Hewitt said. This will apply to applications for new pharmacies and to existing pharmacies that wish to extend service provision. Application and appeals processes are to be simplified. Secondary legislation to implement this is to be introduced in April 2004.