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I received today a circular, in the form of an unaddressed letter delivered by the postman, offering a service to have “your NHS repeat prescriptions delivered for FREE to your door”, and enclosing a form to register with this postal pharmacy, called Pharmacy2U.
Now there is no reason whatever to suspect that this is anything other than a legitimate (and for some, a useful) service. Close reading makes clear that this is a private business, an alternative to using a local pharmacy, and it does not claim to be an ‘official’ part of the NHS.
However, with a less beady eye, I might have mistaken this for an NHS service, or something offered by my local surgery (a number of local surgeries are listed). The leaflet makes use of a shade of blue close to that of the NHS. It carries the logo of the NHS Electronic Prescription Service (which is the means by which GPs send repeat prescriptions direct to pharmacies).
Of course, many people will find it very convenient to have their medicines delivered to their door (Amazon has shown that!). But just as Amazon and its ilk have cut a swathe through our High Streets, it is important to remember that services such as these are direct competitors with our local pharmacies, and with much lower overheads and economies of scale, are a serious threat to the survival of our local services. The payments our local pharmacies receive from the NHS for dispensing our medicines will instead go to these anonymous corporations.
There are real benefits to having knowledgeable professional pharmacists right there on our High Streets. But if you want them to be there when you need them, think carefully before moving your custom away from them.
(Disclaimer: I have no interest in or connection with any pharmacy other than as a customer.)

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There must be a huge amount of money associated with repeat prescriptions. This is not the only such service. I recently received 5 free consultations with an online GP using a Skype like connection, but a substantial part of the app enables the provider to garner my medical records, and to offer a repeat prescription service.

Do I detect an anomaly - the NHS says that for minor problems you should talk to your pharmacist, whilst at the same time licensing private companies to undermine a considerable part of their income. While I still can I plan to continue walking up to Reena to collect my prescriptions. Part of my kepp fit regime.

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