Dispensing GPs are located in the UK’s most rural areas. Due to the remoteness of their locations, dispensing GPs are able to supply vital prescribed NHS medication in areas where access to a community pharmacy is difficult, or non-existent.
The Dispensing Doctors’ Association (DDA) represents over 6,600 doctors currently working in 1,290 dispensing practices across the UK. It is the only organisation that specifically represents the interests of dispensing doctors and their 8.8 million patients.
Extra services: Rural GPs typically offer a range of ‘extra’ services, over and above core NHS GP services (see box out, below). This recognises that specialist healthcare services are often difficult or impossible to access elsewhere locally. Home visits made by rural GPs recognise that access to the surgery can be difficult for a large number of patients1. NHS
England recognises that earlier healthcare interventions play a vital role in preventing emergency admissions.2
Outstanding ratings: Data from the GP regulator, the Care Quality Commission, shows that compared to non-dispensing GPs, dispensing GPs account for almost double the number of ‘outstanding’ practices and fewer than half the number rated as ‘inadequate’.3
Income from the GP medicines dispensing service allows dispensing practices to ‘go the extra mile’ for patients.
Community hub: Rural GPs are located in the centre of local communities. This allows patients to see a GP when they need to: increasing distance from health services is known
to reduce use of primary care services4… resulting in higher than expected numbers of deaths5 and lower than expected survival [rates].6 DEFRA identifies that rural populations already have the poorest access to services, compared to urban people, as a result of distance, transport links, slow broadband speeds and variable mobile coverage.7 England’s most rural GPs have some of the largest catchment areas in the UK
Same GP service: Rural GPs offer usual GP appointments, including for elderly populations at risk of more complex healthcare conditions. When patients can see the same GP more consistently there are fewer hospital admissions.8
Career development: Rural GPs provide much needed skilled employment and training in areas identified by DEFRA as offering fewer skilled people and less access to training and to employment.7 GP partnerships offer career development potential in places with few other employment opportunities.
Extra services offered by dispensing GPs
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