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Community Dispensing

Pharmacy Services

NHS National Services Scotland ISD Scotland & NHS National Services Scotland

Pharmacy Services

Before a pharmacy, or any other dispensary, can provide NHS dispensing services in Scotland, it must enter into a contract with the local NHS Board to provide dispensing service for the NHS. This is often a formality if an existing business is being taken over. The contract basis is that the applicant shall:

  • supply a comprehensive dispensing service
  • provide other services the NHS Board deems fit
  • be open to the public at agreed hours.

The general 'terms of service' form the basis of part one of the Scottish Drug Tariff. The business rather than the individual is deemed to be a contractor by Practitioner and Counter Fraud Services (P&CFS). A contractor can be:

  • a community pharmacy business
  • a dispensing doctor
  • an appliance supplier
  • stoma providers

Community Pharmacy contractor activity open data

These files contain information on Community Pharmacy activity and direct pharmaceutical care services. The data extract is presented as downloadable text (.csv) file. The file will be released quarterly but contains monthly data.

Minor Ailment Service

The Minor Ailment service (MAS) aims to support the provision of direct pharmaceutical care within the NHS by community pharmacists. It allows eligible people to register with a community pharmacist of their choice for the consultation and treatment of common self limiting conditions. The pharmacist advises, treats or refers the persons (or provides a combination of these actions) according to their needs. A person must be registered with a Scottish GP practice and fulfil certain criteria to be eligible for the service (see the Community Pharmacy website for further details). Further information about MAS, and links to our MAS publication can be found here.

Chronic Medication Service

The Chronic Medication Service encourages joint working between General Practitioners and Community Pharmacists in order to improve long-term care and serial dispensing for patients with long-term conditions. For more information see the Community Pharmacy website.

Smoking Cessation Service

The smoking cessation service was introduced in 2009 for community pharmacists to deliver NHS stop smoking attempts. More information can be found on the NHS inform website.

Public Health Service

The Public Health Service aims to support self care through a health promoting philosophy, activities and environment. This service was introduced in July 2006, and in 2007/08 national service specifications were adopted for smoking cessation, and for emergency hormonal contraception. For more information see the Community Pharmacy website.

Gluten-Free Food Service

The Scottish Government circular PCA(P)(2013)29 announces the introduction of a new Gluten-Free Food (GFF) Service on a trial basis. From February 2014 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of either Coeliac Disease or Dermatitis Herpetiformis can benefit from a Gluten-Free Food Service based in the community. For more information see the Community Pharmacy website.

Prescription charges

Prescriptions in the National Health Service (NHS) in Scotland were dispensed free at the point on delivery from the official inception of the NHS in July 1948 to June 1952, when a small charge was introduced. The charge was then abolished in February 1965 and re-introduced in July 1968. It then remained in force and as at 1st April 2010, was £3.00 per item. In April 2011 the Scottish Government abolished prescription charges.

The Prescribing Information System (PIS) holds data on Exemption charges for prescriptions. However, there are data quality issues for the period prior to the abolition of charging (not all exemptions were consistently captured) and the data completeness is patchy since prescription charges were abolished.


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