This year's Dispensing Doctors' Association conference comes at a time when, thanks to the potential impact of the Pharmacy White Paper, dispensing doctors' could be threatened with complete extinction within a short timescale.
Unsurprisingly, this is the key focus of the event with the main theme being Dispensing Doctor: it ain't broke, so why fix it? It is vital that dispensing doctors are able to express their views and each of the three sessions has at least one presentation to help finalise our responses to the White Paper consultation1 by the closing date of 20 November.
Dr David Baker: ‘The more practices that are represented at Harrogate the stronger our voice will be’
The voice of dispensing
The event's keynote speaker is David Taylor, professor of pharmaceutical and public health policy at the University of London's Department of Practice and Policy, within the School of Pharmacy.
Mr Taylor is not a pharmacist but he worked on the introduction of the strategy contained in Pharmacy in the Future - Implementing the NHS Plan2 and will be kicking off the conference on the subject of Doctors and Pharmacists: working in collaboration and competition.
We then hope to welcome the chief pharmaceutical officer, Dr Keith Ridge, to discuss the White Paper from his departmental perspective.
On Saturday afternoon, after the AGM, there will be discussion of the DDA's response to the consultation document while on Sunday morning we will hear from the Association's public affairs consultants, Weber Shandwick, about how doctors can ensure that their voices, and those of their patients, are heard to best advantage.
Also on the agenda
We have talks on the yellow card system and pharmacovigilance by pharmacist Ros Prior; and from the prescription pricing division, there will be an explanation of the automation of prescription pricing systems by its head of pharmaceutical services, Paul Fieldhouse.
Also on the Saturday afternoon, there is a session run by DDA vice-chairman Dr Allan Tennant and his practice manager, Brian Austen, on opening a doctor-owned pharmacy to protect patient services.
This will consider how, when and why it might be advisable to do this. Their company has recently opened both a 100-hour and a 40-hour pharmacy in North Lincolnshire and they have assisted many other practices towards producing this integrated solution to pharmaceutical service provision.
Many dispensers and practice managers also attend our conference and they have not been forgotten in our agenda: presentations about dispensing error, Demons in the Dispensary, and Funding and Foes in Training will run in parallel with Dr Tennant's sessions, provided by Buttercups Training director Vanessa Kingsbury and her team. They are only too aware of the implications of wide ranging changes on staff training.
On the final day of the conference, Roger Sceats, a long time supporter of the DDA and one of only a handful of lawyers to specialise in the pharmaceutical regulations, will bring us up to date on the law in relation to dispensing issues. A session on rural forensics will round off the event, presented by Dr Adam Cutts, director of Essex Medical and Forensic Services.
We are hugely grateful to the companies who exhibit at the conference, and this year have a full house of exhibitors with 30 trade stands.
Meanwhile, the social side of life has not been forgotten. Friday evening has a Halloween theme and a small prize will be given to the most appropriately dressed attendee. The main conference dinner on Saturday is preceded by a Champagne reception and followed by music and entertainment.
However, it will not be forgotten that this year's conference is the most significant in years. Our aim is to persuade the DoH that the 'no change' option in the consultation document is the only viable way to prevent total destabilisation of rural medical and pharmaceutical provision. The more practices that are represented at Harrogate the stronger our voice will be.
To quote from the unprecedented joint statement from the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee and DDA: 'We want to be able to move forward in a spirit of true co-operation, using the skills of both professions and our respective ancillary staff to the best advantage of those we serve, our patients.'
- Dr Baker is chief executive of the Dispensing Doctors' Association
- Contact Sarah Wild at firstname.lastname@example.org or tel (020) 8267 4532
When: Friday 31 October - Sunday 2 November, 2008
Where: The Majestic Hotel, Harrogate
How to book: Register now online at www.proconbooking.co.uk/dda/2008 or email email@example.com
1. DoH, Pharmacy in England: Building on strengths, delivering the future - proposals for legislative change. Aug 2008. www.dh.gov.uk/en/Consultations/Liveconsultations/DH_087324
2. DoH, Pharmacy in the future, implementing the NHS plan. Sept 2000. www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatisticz/Publications/Publications PolicyAndGuidance/DH_4005917
The DDA is the only organisation that ensures the views of dispensing practices are heard by the government and key negotiating bodies. We also provide telephone advice to members and essential updated information via our website, and email alerts. To find out more call Jeff Lee on (01751) 430835 or visit www.dispensingdoctor.org
The DDA does not necessarily support or endorse the opinions or information contained on this page.