Campaign: Public sector/health - Rural doctors fight for right to dispense

Campaign: Saving Rural Medical Services
Client: Dispensing Doctors' Association
PR team: Weber Shandwick
Timescale: April 2008-January 2009
Budget: £59,000

The Dispensing Doctors' Association (DDA) represents doctors working in rural UK practices where GPs earn extra money delivering medication to patients living more than a mile from a pharmacy. In 2008 the Department of Health (DH) proposed rule changes that would lead to cuts or closures.


- To demonstrate the pitfalls of stopping dispensing services

- To gain public support

- To ensure doctors could still dispense.


Two surveys were carried out and findings sent to MPs showing the impact on patients of halting dispensing services. Action included lobbying, river swims, petitions and media activity. Parliamentary meetings between the DDA and politicians were set up.


More than 50 MPs and peers sent letters of support. Conservative Party leader David Cameron also expressed his support. The campaign was covered extensively in local, national, regional and specialist media.


The DH received 62,733 responses related to options for dispensing by doctors; 99.9 per cent of these agreed with the DDA's call for no change. In December 2008 health minister Phil Hope confirmed there would be no change to the arrangements, leading medical title Pulse to name the DDA one of its True Champions of General Practice.

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