Distance Selling Pharmacies

Distance Selling Pharmacy

A "Distance Selling Pharmacy" (DSP) is a definition created by the UK pharmacy Regulator (the GPhC) defining a type of pharmacy that works exclusively at a distance from NHS patients. This article explores:
  1. What is a DSP?
  2. How can I apply to start a DSP?
  3. What healthcare regulations do I need to meet to successfully start a DSP?
  4. How can I meet the GPhC DSP requirements?
  5. How best to respond to representations by competitors about a new DSP.
  6. How the Hubnet.io can help in this process.
  7. How to set up a Distance Selling Pharmacy in Scotland (dedicated page)
  8. Distance Selling Pharmacy Frequently Asked Questions (dedicated page)

Voyager Medical has had over a decade of submitting and managing Distance Selling Pharmacy applications. If you would like to access a database of previously submitted examples of the successful applications please contact us.

What is a DSP?

In the UK, the term "Distance Selling Pharmacy" (DSP) is a type of pharmacy registered with the GPhC (the UK pharmacy regulator) as working exclusively "at a distance" from patients. This used to include "mail order pharmacies" however today it includes almost exclusively internet-only pharmacies. The exact definition as specified by the Medicines Ethics and Practice defines a DSP as:

  • A pharmacy service where prescriptions are not physically handed in by patients but collected by pharmacy staff, received by post or electronically – such as in the electronic prescription service (EPS).
  • A delivery service from the registered pharmacy to patients in their own home or in a care home or nursing home.
  • A collection and delivery service.
  • A ‘click and collect’ service.
  • A mail-order service from a registered pharmacy.
  • An internet pharmacy service, including ones linked to an online prescribing service whether or not the prescribing service is owned and operated by you, or by a third party business.
  • A ‘hub and spoke’ pharmacy service, where medicines are prepared, assembled, dispensed and labelled for individual patients against prescriptions at a central ‘hub’ registered pharmacy.

In UK law, Distance Selling Pharmacies are specifically mentioned in UK government legislation (Part 9 Section 64) as follows:

(a) the DSP must not offer to provide pharmaceutical services, other than directed services, to persons who are present at (which includes in the vicinity of) the listed chemist premises;

(b) the means by which the DSP provides pharmaceutical services, other than directed services, must be such that any person receiving those services does so otherwise than at the listed chemist premises;

(c) the listed DSP premises must not be on the same site or in the same building as the premises of a provider of primary medical services with a patient list; i.e. the new DSP should not be based on the same premises as a GP surgery, if this is needed dispensing doctor legislation should be used.

(d)(i) the uninterrupted provision of essential services, during the opening hours of the premises, to persons anywhere in England who request those services i.e. the DSP should be able to offer the service to anyone in the UK regardless of location.

(d)(ii) reiterates the importance of not providing face to face contact.

(e) mentions nothing in the published practice leaflet or the website should mention face to face contact.


How can I apply for a DSP?

starting an online pharmacy

The 4 stages listed above need to be completed before an application can be submitted. Essentially, these stages are checking with the various local and national jurisdictions as to whether a distance selling pharmacy would be allowed. After these stages have been completed you will need to show the GPhC how you intend to meet the various DSP requirements.

How can I meet DSP GPhC regulations?

When starting a DSP you will need to meet the requirements of the GPhC inspection and if you are looking to handle NHS prescriptions you also must meet the Community Pharmacy Assurance FrameworksFor the past 10 years hubnet.io and Voyager Medical has been involved in setting up Distance Selling Pharmacies across the UK. To date, we have helped over 100 Distance Selling Pharmacies become registered with the GPhC and we maintain over 70 on the GPhC register. If you are looking to make a distance selling application our Digital Back Office Solution not only helps you establish your license it aids you in retaining it. We have collected a database of queries sent by other pharmacies to LPC upon a distance selling pharmacy market entry application.

The system contains Distance Selling Standard Operating Procedures and Clinical Governance documentation which meet the GPhC requirements set in law by legislation.gov.uk Regulations 25 and 64. All documents have been previously inspected by GPhC inspectors and are maintained by our centralised superintendent pharmacist. Below is a quick look at our Distance Selling Pharmacy SOP system.

Pharmacy Clinical Governance online


The Inspection decision-making framework is essentially a checklist of what the GPhC expects from a licensed distance selling pharmacy. To summarise the requirements the GPhC lists “Five Principles”…

GPhC Five Principles

The 5 Principles, essentially, describe best practice arrangements for safe and effective pharmacy practice. They include the following:

  • Principle 1 – looks at how a pharmacy identifies and manages risks.

  • Principle 2 – looks at staffing issues.

  • Principle 3 – is about the pharmacy premises.

  • Principle 4 – is about how pharmacy staff delivers services.

  • Principle 5 – is about pharmacy equipment and facilities.

These principles are then broken down further into the following GPhC Inspection Checklist. Since its inception, the HubNet system has aimed to target every point on the checklist with one goal, to exceed its requirements. We do this in a variety of ways if you would like to have a look please see our modified GPhC checklist which compares what we offer to what is expected.

Community Pharmacy Assurance Framework

The second document comes from NHS commissioners and details out what the NHS expects of your business. Again we have taken each point and addressed them with novel solutions, have a look at our modified CPAF checklist for more information.


Distance Selling Pharmacy SOPs

By subscribing to the hubnet.io you will get access to the following Distance Selling Pharmacy console.

Online Clinical Governance SOPs

The HubNet.io meets DSP Governance requirements by giving you everything you need in one place, including:

  • Complete Clinical Audits.

  • Access and edit 150+ distance selling pharmacy SOPs.

  • Maintain a daily multidisciplinary Clinical Diary.

  • Record and report Errors - including NPSA classing.

  • Record Date Checking of medicines either by Class (GSL, POM...) or by location (dispensary, shop...).

  • Maintain Cleaning logs.

  • Record your Recalls and securely link staff members to actions taken.

  • Maintain a Responsible Pharmacist log.

  • Record Maintenance is done within the pharmacy.

We understand that one size does not fit all, therefore we have designed all our tools to be fully customisable for each individual pharmacy location.

Not only do we protect you with our digital governance system we empower you to do more with online prescribing tools, and Travel Clinic PGDs, have a look at our pilot pharmacy website for more information.

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Hubnet is an online pharmacy information system. We intend to provide healthcare professionals with an online ecosystem to allow for better communication between each other and their patients. Protected by law, the data you enter into this site remains your intellectual property and cannot be used by us. Our goal is to enable you to do more, if you like it you can subscribe for more!

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