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Prepare for quality dispensing scheme

Quality plans will help dispensing practices despite flaws, says Dr Malcolm Ward

The majority of dispensing doctors will welcome the new dispensary services quality scheme. Practices that sign up to and achieve all the quality standards will receive £2.88 for each dispensing patient.  

Negotiating the dispensary quality payments scheme with NHS Employers was a protracted affair. The GPC and Dispensing Doctors’ Association (DDA) wanted to ensure that the quality objectives were achievable and appropriate to dispensing practice.  

Nominated GP  

A key requirement is nominating a dispensing GP at the practice who is accountable for the dispensing service.  

For dispensing staff, requirements include appropriate training; a record of the training; and continuing professional development (CPD) and annual appraisals.  

Dispensers should have training equivalent to pharmacy services NVQ level 2 or have booked on to such a course within three months of the practice signing up to the quality scheme. Staff with a limited dispensing role must have a certificate signed by the accountable GP and practice manager (if any) to confirm they have received a competency assessment.  

Unsupervised dispensers must have at least 1,000 hours’ dispensing work experience over the previous five years.  

Standard operating procedures reflecting good practice and all the procedures that are actually performed in the dispensary must be in place and the practice must audit dispensing services with significant event monitoring.  

There must be an annual review of medicines’ use for 10 per cent of the practice’s dispensing patients and the practice must agree with the primary care organisation which group to target each year. For 2006/7 the DoH has agreed to 7.5 per cent rather than 10 per cent because of the delayed launch.  

One drawback is that the quality payments will not be made in stages.  

Dispensing GPs’ initial feedback has flagged up two further concerns. Meeting the requirements needs the same effort for large and small practices. There is also concern over the amount of dispensing experience for independent working. With a trainee dispenser, 1,000 hours could be problematic.  

However, the DDA is keen to see dispensing practices opt into the scheme as a means of raising standards.  

Dr Ward is a rural Derbyshire GP and former chairman of the Dispensing Doctors’ Association   

Dispensary quality requirements  

Dispensing staff must be appropriately trained, undertake CPD and have annual appraisals. 

Dispensers should have training equivalent to pharmacy services NVQ level 2.  

Staff with a limited dispensing role must have a competency assessment.  

Dispensers working unsupervised must have 1,000 hours’ dispensing work experience over the previous five years.  

Standard operating procedures for good practice and dispensary procedures in place.  

Significant event monitoring.  

Annual review of medicines use for 10 per cent (7.5 per cent in 2006/7) of dispensing list.  


Full details of the scheme can be found on the DDA and BMA websites:  



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