Prescription direction

Prescription direction is the practice of directing or encouraging people to have their prescription(s) dispensed at a particular pharmacy in ways that are misleading, deny the opportunity for people to make an informed choice or place pressure on the individual concerned.

Prescription direction is invariably linked to a financial benefit for the practice and pharmacy involved. It is a corrupt practice. Certain providers prosper by unfair means rather than by successfully competing to deliver the best quality patient-focused service.

In the past few years there has been a growth in prescription direction and associated unprofessional practices involving General Practitioners, practice staff, pharmacists and pharmacy teams. This problem has been exacerbated by the growth distance selling pharmacies which are more able to exploit a lack of scrutiny on prescription direction.

Pharmacy Voice believes stronger, more forceful action is needed urgently to stamp out prescription direction. Without this, public confidence in NHS providers will decline and some pharmacies will no longer be viable and have to close. This will endanger patient provision and broader healthcare services. Any changes to the existing NHS estate should be managed as part of a clear strategy based on statutory local needs assessments. We should not allow an erosion of the network through corrupt business practice.

Pharmacy Voice is taking action to help ensure that community pharmacy recognises its own responsibility for tackling poor or corrupt practice where it occurs. We are lobbying the Department of Health, NHS England and the professional regulators to work with us to stop this activity and protect the interests of patients and the NHS.

We believe:

  • The General Pharmaceutical Council must act against unprofessional activities by pharmacists
  • The General Medical Council must act against medical practitioners who fail to declare financial interests and abuse their relationships with patients by pressuring them into using particular pharmacies
  • NHS England must uphold NHS regulations and clamp down on anti-competitive behaviour