Practices across Wessex have been approached by internet pharmacies who are asking the practice to send out promotional material to patients on their behalf. Whilst there is no problem with practices providing patients with information on the available pharmacy services, we should not be 'directing' patients to one service by stating or implying that it might be better than others or by excluding any individual pharmacy service provider to the locality.
A similar problem may arise with the Electronic Prescriptions Service which allows prescriptions to be sent electronically from the GP surgery to a pharmacy. GPs and practices must be careful not to influence a patient's choice of nomination.
'Prescription direction' occurs where a patient is being directed by their GP practice to a certain pharmacy to have their prescription dispensed.
Patients have a free choice between any community pharmacy and in some cases, a GP dispensary. Actions by practices seeking to influence a patient's choice of pharmacy can undermine relationships with patients, as well as damaging trust and cooperation between healthcare professionals. Financial arrangements between community pharmacies and GP practices should be transparent.
The British Medical Association, the Pharmaceutical Service Negotiating Committee and Pharmacy Voice agree that guidelines to ensure proper prescription practices should be followed.
Providing advice that can be seen as prescription direction is against good practice.
Pharmacy owners and pharmacists are also strongly advised not to request or become complicit in such activities.
Please see the following link for further information: http://bma.org.uk/practical-support-at-work/gp-practices/prescribing/prescription-direction
Wessex LMCs would strongly advise all constituents that they should not seek to persuade a patient to nominate a pharmacy that they have themselves recommended. This advice relates to use of the Electronic Prescriptions Service or if approached by a third party who might be asking for assistance in promoting their services.
Where a GP or practice does wish to inform patients about available pharmacy services then the responsibility is to provide information which
- Is factual and verifiable
- Conforms with the law and guidance issued by the Advertising Standards Authority
- Conforms to GMS and GPC regulations and guidelines
- Does not make claims about the quality of the services, especially if comparisons are being made with other providers
- Does not exploit patients' vulnerability or lack of medical knowledge
- Does not pressurise people into using a service e.g. by arousing ill founded fears