While responding to the consultation on hub-and-spoke distribution, pharmacist unions stressed that patient safety and care must be the priority in hub-and-spoke distribution.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) welcomed the opportunity presented by a change in legislation to allow community pharmacies to use hub-and-spoke distribution, but reiterated that patient care must be at the heart of future changes .
With respect to patient safety, the Pharmacy Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) considers only Model 1 to be appropriate, with manageable patient safety risks, and is a model that has the potential to enable the entire sector to benefit equitably.
In its response to the consultation on Hub and Spoke distribution, the PSNC pointed out that Model 2 of the consultation, a hub for direct patient supply of dispensed medicines, raises patient safety concerns and cannot not be supported.
RPS chair Professor Claire Anderson said: ‘In all models, patients should continue to have access to a pharmacist at the time of medication provision so that they have the opportunity to discuss, ask questions or to raise concerns, and to receive appropriate information with advice and guidance.
“Various hub and spoke models were proposed during the consultation and it is important that the models that move forward deliver benefits to patients and the wider industry.
Claire stressed that new national guidelines must be developed to clarify hub-spoke agreements, and this must be supported by minimum regulatory standards and clear communications to the public.
“The resilience of the drug supply chain must also be considered if the procurement, distribution and distribution of drugs is done through a handful of hubs.”
The PSNC added: “There is virtually no financial efficiency contemplated by these proposals – of hub-and-spoke distribution – and, if used, are more likely to increase costs for the community pharmacy sector.”
“The value to the NHS and society of supplying medicines through department pharmacies and the value to the public purse of purchasing generic medicines through community pharmacies must also be considered.”