§ Mr. Michael Morris
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what safeguards he intends to introduce into the new pharmacy contract to prevent a pharmacist who has received compensation from a closure from opening a new pharmacy.
§ Mr. Hayhoe
During the debate in Committee on the NHS (Amendment) Bill I agreed to look again at the system of payments to pharmacists who wished to relinquish their NHS contract, or to relocate their business740W to areas where they could better serve patient needs, to ensure that the system will work as intended and that there are adequate safeguards against abuse.
The proposed system already has a number of important safeguards. It will operate for two years only and small pharmacies only will be eligible; there is no opportunity for someone to open a pharmacy and then quickly close it to obtain a payment; under the new arrangements a new National Health Service contract will be granted only where it is necessary or desirable for patient services, so new pharmacies will be opened only where patient needs dictate.
I have considered carefully the need and the options for strengthening these in-built safeguards. Both the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee have been consulted and both have given the assurance that they will be playing an active role to make sure that the system operates as intended.