The proposed 6% cuts to community pharmacy have prompted the Dispensing Doctors’ Association (DDA) to warn members of the possible “immediate effect on practices”.

In an open letter, DDA chairman Dr Richard West advises that the budget reduction could affect the Drug Tariff and, as a result, dispensing practice reimbursement.

The DDA were not mentioned in the original letter from the Department of Health (DH) to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) on 17 December 2015.

However, a separate letter from DH notified the DDA that it would be consulted formally about the changes.

In the letter to DDA members, Dr West said: “Dispensing doctors are not mentioned in the letter to the PSNC because community pharmacy is a separate contractual system with its own funding.

“As a result, there is a possibility that the changes negotiated may not affect practices.

“However, were any reductions to the Drug Tariff to be agreed, there would be an immediate effect on practices.”

He confirms the DDA have been attempting to change the reimbursement system “for some time” to prevent the impact of changes to the Drug Tariff associated with the community pharmacy contract.

“We would consider any further reductions to be totally unacceptable and a threat to the viability of rural general practice.

“In this scenario, we would demand that NHS England establishes an immediate system of financial protection for dispensing practices and reforms the system of reimbursement,” added Dr West.

The letter also dismissed the notion that ‘click and collect’ services will be implemented in rural areas with poor broadband connections by 2020 as “just not possible”.