Pharmacy Voice (PV) has uncovered the fact that almost half of PCTs do not collect information on whether GPs have a financial interest in a pharmacy. PV made a Freedom of Information request to all PCTs in April, following an upsurge in allegations that some GPs have used a privileged position to direct scripts or demand equity in existing pharmacies.
Of 97 PCTs responding to the FoI request, 42 PCTs said they did not collect such information. Just one in ten of the responding PCTs accounted for 69% of known pharmacies with a GP interest, which could point to there being concentrations of GP-owned pharmacies, but is more likely a reflection of variance in recording processes.
Rob Darracott, chief executive of Pharmacy Voice, said:
“There have been a number of disturbing allegations about the behaviour of some GPs with a business interest in a pharmacy. A mutually respectful relationship between general practice and community pharmacy is important to patient care, so behaviours that undermine trust are deeply troubling. If PCTs are unaware of potential conflicts of interest, how can we have confidence that there is proper oversight of this matter by the NHS?”
Pharmacy Voice has already entered into correspondence with regulators and other agencies about enforcing existing ethical and contractual requirements. PV will also be examining whether obligations can be strengthened, especially given that GPs will soon take on additional powers under the Health and Social Care Act.