"Why can't I choose the pharmacy I visit?"

About: NHS Bedfordshire CCG

(as the patient),

When I went to pick up my usual repeat prescription from the surgery dispensary, I was told that this is no longer possible as they are no longer my nearest pharmacy, 'as the crow flies'. Apparently a new little pharmacy, just recently opened, is now closer to my house. Which means the surgery dispensary can no longer give me my prescription! I couldn't believe my ears...what happened to having the choice of health care? Baring in mind, I work full time, so opening times are already limited. I have to request the repeat prescription, drive to the surgery to pick it up, drive to the 'new & apparently closer' pharmacy (who doesn't have a stock of my prescription, let alone parking facilities), then drive back another day to pick it up!

We have a super surgery with onsite facilities, why on earth can we not use them? I am an able bodied person, what about the elderly and infirm? I feel that this is absolute madness and should be changed immediately, giving the choice back to the patient.

More about:
Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››


Response from Peter Howard, Head of PALS, Complaints and FOI , Communications and Engagement Directorate, Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG)

Dear Tigger83,

Thank you for your comments about the changes to dispensing practice at your surgery and I am sorry that you are unhappy with the new arrangements. I do sympathise with the frustration you are experiencing with this change.

You asked what has happened to patient choice and why are you no longer allowed to choose where to have your medicines dispensed; this is due to the opening of the new Pharmacy and the application of national prescribing rules.

The 'dispensing doctor contract' allows a practice such as yours to dispense only to patients that live more than one mile, (1.5km) away from a Pharmacy. Because the new Pharmacy has now opened, I am afraid that the Surgery are no longer legally allowed to dispense to patients who live within one mile of that Pharmacy, hence the change for you.

As you may be aware already, you can choose to have your prescriptions dispensed by any Pharmacy, not just the new local one, or you might decide to avail yourself of the Pharmacy's delivery service if it operates one. However, I am afraid that this is a legal requirement and not one that I am able to assist you to circumvent.

If you have any other queries or wish to discuss the matter further, please feel free to contact me.

Peter A Howard

Head of PALS, Complaints and FOI

Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group

Suite One, Capability House

Wrest Park



MK45 4HR

Telephone: 01525 864430 X 5946

Mobile: 07813 068821

Safe haven fax: 01525 864425

Secure email: peterhoward1@nhs.net

  • {{helpful}} of {{total()}} people think this response is helpful

Updates, changes and questions related to this story