From BBC Online
Proposals to change the rules on which GP practices in England can provide drugs directly to their patients have been rejected by ministers.
Health Minister Phil Hope told MPs on Tuesday there would be "no change" to the current arrangements.
Rural doctors had campaigned against the changes, warning they threatened the future of GP dispensaries.
Many patients in rural communities are able to get prescription drugs from their GP, rather than a pharmacy.
But the Pharmacy White Paper – designed to increase the role chemists play in providing care for patients – included a number of options to reform the existing rules. Under these, patients who live more than a mile from a chemist can choose to have their medicines dispensed by their GP.
The White Paper argued the system was expensive and raised the idea of scrapping or modifying the distance rule, in favour of giving more power to local primary care trusts (PCTs) to decide which practices should dispense drugs.
The Dispensing Doctors Association (DDA) argued that any change to the system would destabilise more than 700 GP practices, mainly in rural areas, which dispense drugs directly to their patients.
This would result in job losses and service cut-backs, with millions of patients denied a choice over where to get their drugs, and other services – such as home visits – threatened.