The latest Dispensing Fee Scale published on 2nd October has come as a viscous blow to dispensaries
as they struggle to ensure their viability. It seems as if dispensaries are being attacked from all sides.
We have the punitive Generics Costing more than Tariff and the supply issues causing huge workload
burdens and increased stress to both patients and dispensers. On top of that many discounts are
reducing or disappearing all together.
Trying to understand the yo-yoing of the dispensing fees is not easy. There is apparently a set pool of
money which goes towards dispensing fees for All doctors – this includes dispensing fees for flu jabs
administered by our non-dispensing colleagues. This set amount does indeed get an annual inflationary
uplift, with this year’s uplift being 4.5%. I am not sure whose inflationary figures this was based upon,
but with other inflationary measures recognising significantly higher figures, this represents a net
decrease in income. On top of that, using a complex set of statistics, this year’s dispensing fee is based
upon number of dispensed items averaged out of several years. If the number of items together with
the dispensing fee related to those items is in excess of the fixed sum made available for that period
of time, an adjustment takes place to recoup the overspend. Not surprisingly, during the beginnings
of Covid there was an increase in dispensed items. On top of that we have seen an increase in flu jabs
given as the 50–64-year-olds were eligible. This will have skewed the dispensing item figure for that
period of time and dispensing practices are now suffering the consequences of something totally out
of their control.
The DDA have long been advocating for a fairer system to try to avoid the huge swings in dispensing fees.
The GPC negotiates on behalf of all GPs and have not yet been able to persuade NHSE and the DHSC to
consider less volatile options for funding dispensing services.
We have seen Boots and Lloyds closing pharmacies and many other pharmacies are reporting big drops in
their operating profits. We all know that dispensing subsidises the rest of the practice and should practices
not be able to ensure the viability of their dispensaries this is sure to have a direct impact on the services
provided by those practices and many of them will indeed be considering handing their contracts back. It
has been shown that when practices hand their contracts back, it costs the NHS a significant amount more
to provide those services.
Whilst many dispensing practices will be struggling, Dispex has many tools available via our website and
training to assist you in reducing your losses. Why not check out our Brand Comparisons,
Generics Costing More Than Tariff, Positive PIs as well as our cost saving Informatics section.