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The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published its response to the 2016 hub and spoke consultation which has paved the way for a new discussion following engagement with community pharmacies and other stakeholders this year.

The response showed that many respondents supported use of hub and spoke dispensing models in independent pharmacies, but expressed concerns about some practicalities related to it.

Respondents raised concerns around “patient data, liability, implications for the supply chain, and risks to the existence of small community pharmacies.”

They also raised question about the speed of access to medicines in an emergency and security of data transfers between hubs and spokes, DHSC stated.

Apprehensions about accountability and governance of the process, as well as responsibility for dispensing errors were also raised.

PSNC’s position

In 2016, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) had opposed introduction of hub and spoke dispensing, but has since accepted its launch on the basis that fair models for all contractors will be agreed with DHSC.

In 2019, a 5-year deal national pharmacy contract was agreed between DHSC, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) and PSNC.

In the deal it was decided that with PSNC’s support, the government will “pursue legislative change to allow all pharmacies to benefit from more efficient hub and spoke dispensing, enabling increased use of automation and all the benefits that that brings,” the negotiator said.

Having new legislative provisions on hub and spoke dispensing is vital to establishing a level playing field in practice for all contractors, PSNC said.

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