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Friday, 12 September 2008

Making sure the doctor's bible is accessible to all

Flicking through the new edition of the BNF (British National Formulary) has got me thinking just how vital a reference tool it is to the medical profession, not least to those just starting out.

It really is a doctor's "bible", containing all the latest prescribing advice. I remember how I used to carry my own somewhat dog-eared copy around with me as if it were some kind of rare gem. But then, not so long ago, the BNF did become a little like gold-dust, with talk of it being rationed and with some GPs telling me they had only one copy per surgery. Not terribly useful if you need to use it and it's in another consultation room.

I do have it on good authority however that this situation has since been remedied and that now, whoever in the medical profession wants a copy of the BNF, can get access to one.

And this leads me on to a prescribing matter of a different kind - the issue surrounding the regulation of dispensing in Wales. This has the potential to significantly disadvantage and inconvenience patients.

I know rural health matters are a priority for the Welsh Assembly Government. So I find it astonishing that in approaches to them via the BMA's GP committee, this "loophole" has not been acted upon. The committee has urged the Welsh Assembly Government to bring regulations here, in line with England and protect surgery dispensing services that are so essential to rural communities and valued by patients in these areas. How long will this situation be allowed to continue?

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