Dispensary at Frimley Green medical practice
I have had a fair amount of communication from residents who have received a letter from the Bartlett Group Practise informing them that the Dispensary at the Frimley Green Medical Centre is to close.
The letter, which I received myself, was not very clear and residents, quite understandably would like to understand the rationale for this move.
I wrote to the NHS Surrey Heath CCG to get an explanation and this is the response I received.
NHS England South East (Kent Surrey and Sussex) is the commissioner of pharmaceutical services provided by dispensing doctors in accordance with the NHS Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Regulations 2013 (Part 8 Regulation 48), and it has a duty to ensure that only patients that are eligible to receive such a service are included on a dispensing doctors dispensing patients list.
To be eligible to receive medication directly from the GP practice, national NHS regulations say that a patient must live in a defined rural area (known as a controlled locality) and more than a 1.6km (1 mile) radius from a community pharmacy. In the case of Deepcut, NHS England has re-designated the area as a non-controlled locality (no longer a rural setting).
Periodically NHS England carry out an audit to identify patients who live within 1.6km and are therefore no longer eligible to receive dispensing services – hence the recent notification that has gone out to patients
Once we are notified of the patients who were no longer eligible, we have to comply with this instruction and remove them from the Doctors Dispensing List after suitable notification. As an interim measure, we were allowed to continue to dispense to existing patients. However, recent further changes mean that it is simply no longer viable or safe to keep the dispensary open at Frimley Green Medical Centre.
These changes to the Deepcut dispensing area have a significant impact on the viability of our dispensary and so we have made the difficult decision to close the dispensary at Frimley Green and relocate the dispensing staff to Ash Vale where we will continue to look after the Mytchett patients.
We appreciate that any changes to patient services can cause anxiety and that the reasons for such changes are not always obvious. However, NHS England has a legal obligation to ensure that the regulations are implemented appropriately. We make every effort to ensure that patients are supported through this transition with clear and practical information. The availability of community pharmacy services has changed significantly in recent years and many pharmacies provide a free collection and delivery service which should assist any patients with restricted mobility, under which they will collect the patient’s prescription from the surgery and deliver medication to the patient at home. There are also internet pharmacies that offer delivery of medication direct to patient’s homes, and also pharmacies that are open for 100 hours per week, situated locally. We can also make use of EPS (Electronic Prescribing System). This allows us to email a patient’s prescription directly to a Community Pharmacy without them needing to collect the paper prescription from reception and physically take it to the Community Pharmacy. And of course, in today’s digital age, there are also online options and the NHS App to order repeat prescriptions for those who choose to opt for these methods.
We are already engaging with the local pharmacies to ease the transition for our patients. For those patients who collect their medication at Frimley Green, Boots, of course, is only a matter of yards away, and I believe they offer a delivery service and certainly collect patient prescriptions from us on a daily basis. I am not aware that Boots in Frimley Green are planning on closing, but this has the potential to cause serious inconvenience were this to occur. Hopefully, though, the use of EPS will mean patients can collect their medication at other locations
We do strongly encourage our patients to use the Electronic Prescribing System, to save the journey to collect a paper prescription, and to consider using online services or the NHS App to order their prescriptions. This alone would save patients with transport or mobility issues a trip to the surgery.
Please be reassured that the decision was not taken lightly, but was necessary following changes under NHS Regulations.
This decision is not within the scope of a Borough or County Councillor so there is nothing I or any other councillor can do to reverse or influence the reversal of this decision.
If you would like to get in touch with the relevant authority then please contact the Surrey Heath Clinical Commissioning Group.