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Bungay GPs head to Westminster

PUBLISHED: 09:00 08 September 2008 | UPDATED: 07:38 01 August 2010

TWO Bungay GPS are planning to go to Westminster to tell the health minister face to face of their concerns at plans which could close surgery in-house dispensaries.

TWO Bungay GPS are planning to go to Westminster to tell the health minister face to face of their concerns at plans which could close surgery in-house dispensaries.

Doctors generally fear they will lose the ability to dispense medicines from their surgeries and are urging patients to make their views known to the government following its White Paper on pharmacies proposing that dispensaries at doctors' surgeries might close as part of plans to give pharmacies a bigger role in healthcare.

Now a consultation on the plans has started which means anyone can have their say, and Sarah Harris, practice manager at Bungay Medical Centre said they were going to the top - two of its GPs were planning to go to Westminster with MP Bob Blizzard to tell the health minister of their concerns.

“Without the income the dispensary brings in, we would have to cut back on services. The income the dispensary work brings in supports approximately two GPs,” she said.

She added: "It would affect what services we can offer to our patients, like early and late opening and home visits to the frail and elderly. We are just hoping it doesn't come to that. We want to retain our dispensary.

"There are seven staff members in the dispensary, and this is very hard for them. Luckily they are staying with us and not going off looking for other jobs.”

Mr Blizzard was being extremely supportive, she said.

Ms Harris added that the qualification for dispensary staff was different to the one for pharmacists, so the staff would have to retrain if they lost their jobs and went to work in a pharmacy.

At Bungay, as well as its in-house dispensary there is a pharmacy attached to the St John's Road facility.

One of four options in the government proposals is that doctors' dispensaries would have to close if there was a nearby pharmacy, while a second option is that there would have to be two pharmacies nearby for the dispensary to close. The definition of “nearby” has not been set, so it is not known how many would be affected.

The loss of income would mean that surgeries might have to cut back on some services - and in some cases could even close.

Pharmacists have broadly welcomed the white paper, which also seeks to give pharmacists a bigger role in healthcare.

What do you think? Write to the Journal at 20, Blyburgate, Beccles, NR34 9TB with your views.

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