First, the cost of dispensing the same drugs in a local pharmacy would be cheaper. The rural area would perhaps lose a GP, but its loss could be an inner-city area's gain. All doctors could then be doing the job they were trained to do: medicine not pharmacy.
Second, the implication in the doctors' letter is that their dispensed medicines take care of their patients total medical requirements. Not so. What about the over-the-counter items sold only in pharmacies? How far do the patients in the Mendipshave to travel for those? What about those prescribed medicines that cost less than the pounds 4.75 dispensing levy and can be bought over the counter? Doctors are not allowed to sell medicines; and pharmacy customers can benefit from the pharmacist's expertise here.
What abo ut the other advantages of having a local pharmacy - the baby food, nappies, gripe water, diabetic foods, indigestion mixtures. People who live in rural areas need these things, sometimes more urgently than those in towns. But to make a local pharmacy viable, it needs the dispensing to survive.
In considering the welfare of the patients in the 100 square miles of their rural practice do the doctors deliver the dispensed medicines? Pharmacies do. And if the doctors do deliver, do they at the same time deliver the razor blades and toothpaste to the housebound? I will.
Experience has shown me that a two- or three-doctor rural medical practice can generate enough business for a pharmacy to be viable - only just; and the doctors don't complain either.
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