Prescription direction to certain pharmacies

'Prescription direction' is when a patient is directed to a certain pharmacy for their prescription. Read our best practice guide on what to avoid when directing to pharmacies.

Location: UK
Audience: GPs Practice managers
Updated: Monday 4 December 2023
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Patients have a free choice between any community pharmacy and a GP dispensary.

Actions by practices that influence a patient's choice of pharmacy can undermine relationships with patients and damage trust and cooperation between healthcare professionals. Financial arrangements between community pharmacies and GP practices should be transparent.

We have agreed the guidelines below with Community Pharmacy England to ensure proper prescription practices are followed.


What to avoid when directing to pharmacies

  • Providing a practice endorsement for a pharmacy.
  • Allowing a practice database to be used to facilitate the promotion of a pharmacy, or any other promotional activity.
  • Suggesting that the practice, GP or member of staff would like a patient to use a particular pharmacy.
  • Allowing a patient to believe that the level of care they receive from their medical practice could be influenced by their choice of pharmacy.
  • Recommending that the patient collects a prescription from a certain pharmacy which is not the pharmacy that the patient had chosen.
  • Manipulating the prescription management process in favour of a particular pharmacy, including, but not limited to, offering a pharmacy privileged access to prescriptions generated by the practice.
  • Failing to be equitable when liaising with pharmacies, by offering differing levels of cooperation such as for repeat prescriptions.
  • Ignoring a patient's freely stated choice of pharmacy.
  • Misrepresenting a practice's relationship with a pharmacy.
  • Showing a lack of candour when providing information about dispensing and pharmacies (including, for example, making unsubstantiated or misleading claims about a particular pharmacy).
  • Failing to be transparent about a financial relationship between a practice and a pharmacy.
  • Any other practice, which is designed to unduly influence a patient’s choice of pharmacy.


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