Updating hub-and-spoke legislation will level the playing field for community pharmacies 

The primary care minister, whose responsibilities include community pharmacy, explains why the government is committed to enabling all pharmacies to use dispensing hubs.

Our hard-working pharmacists are delivering more for NHS patients than ever before.

Over 98% of pharmacists in England signed up to offer Pharmacy First, which is providing improved access to medicines and treatment for those suffering from any of seven common conditions.

Those providing additional blood pressure checks and oral contraception services are giving patients up and down the country more convenient access to vital checks and services.

Also, the fact that 80% of people in England live within a 20-minute walk of a pharmacy means pharmacists are often the first port of call for patients, so we want to make things easier for pharmacists and remove barriers to innovation where we can.

On 13 May 2024, the UK government announced that it would continue with plans to offer all community pharmacies the chance to benefit from ‘hub-and-spoke’ dispensing

The centralisation of this function can make the process of dispensing medicines more efficient, freeing up pharmacists to deliver clinical services and provide expert advice to patients on healthcare and the safe use of medicines.

I know there are challenges facing pharmacies that go beyond the dispensing of medicines

Larger chains have long been able to take advantage of the time savings and efficiencies that can come with this approach. And now we want to level the playing field.

We’re putting forward a change to legislation that enables all pharmacies to use dispensing hubs even if they belong to different legal entities. 

This will unload some of the routine work involved in dispensing and enable our highly skilled staff to spend more time face to face with patients.

As primary care minister, I know there are challenges facing pharmacies that go beyond the dispensing of medicines, but this change could have a significant impact on busy community pharmacies and deliver real benefits to patients in need of pharmacy’s help and expertise.

This is just one of many improvements we’re making to ease the burden on pharmacies across the country. On 29 April 2024, we laid legislation to give pharmacy technicians greater powers to carry out a wider array of day-to-day tasks. 

Having visited pharmacies across the country since taking up my role in November 2023, I’ve been struck by the commitment of pharmacy teams who know and have won the trust of their patients and communities. 

We will continue to listen to what pharmacists need, and I’ll do everything within my power to support and strengthen the community pharmacy sector to ensure it is fit for the future, for the benefit of patients and staff.

Andrea Leadsom, Conservative MP and parliamentary under-secretary of state for public health, start for life and primary care

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, May 2024, Vol 312, No 7985;312(7985)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.314297

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