We have recently agreed terms with a large dispensing doctor practice that has led to the opening of a brand new health centre pharmacy which will be jointly owned by the pharmacy company and the partners of the practice.

Opening a new pharmacy is always difficult, but is especially so when the doctors at the medical centre already dispense to some of their patients and occupy the only suitable space for a pharmacy. For the pharmacy to be able to open, the doctors had to be willing to agree to give up their dispensing rights completely and become shareholders in the new pharmacy. Although dispensing can be an important source of income for partners in a practice, the NHS rules mean that these 'dispensing rights' cannot be sold and retiring partners are unable to retain the benefit of their income from a dispensary. By forming a limited company to operate a pharmacy we have protected the commercial interests of all the shareholders and more importantly, been able to offer the opportunity to have a prescription dispensed to all patients.

Over a period of nearly a year, we managed to agree terms to set up a new limited company, with special shareholders agreements and company articles tailored to a health centre pharmacy and a management agreement that sets out how the pharmacy would be operated. Special consideration also had to be given to the terms of the pharmacy lease.

With over 11,000 prescription items dispensed in the first month of opening, there seems little doubt that the pharmacy will be a great success and patients have welcomed the fact that they can now all use the pharmacy at the medical centre.