PSNC is seeking a judicial review of the decision to implement cuts to community pharmacy funding despite a no “lawful” consultation of the sector, they claim.

The negotiating committee has petitioned the High Court to allow the judicial review on the grounds that the secretary of state “failed to carry out a lawful consultation” on the proposals for community pharmacy.

An expedited hearing has been requested, so that if permission for the judicial review is granted, the hearing will take place as soon as possible.

The spending cuts to community pharmacy, totalling 12% of funds, were implemented on 1 December.

PSNC has said that it accepts the need for the NHS to “achieve efficiencies” in community pharmacy and is “not challenging this principle”, but it does not believe that the process “complied with the requirements of a lawful consultation”.

The committee believes that the Department of Health (DH) “used poor data which it did not disclose as a basis for its decision, rather than updating existing high quality data”.

The application for judicial review notes:

  • The DH’s failure to disclose the fact that it had carried out an analysis of pharmacies’ profitability based on Companies House data as part of its Impact Assessment.
  • The delay in providing this analysis to PSNC after the publication of the Impact Assessment.
  • The validity of the DH analysis including the sample size and the use of accounting returns, rather than economic returns, as the basis for the assessment of pharmacies’ economic viability and how they might be affected by the changes.
  • The DH’s failure to analyse what the levels of pharmacy closures may be.

PSNC has been taking legal and other expert advice since the letter of December 17th 2015 and in recent weeks working closely with other pharmacy organisations also exploring legal options. The National Pharmacy Association is named as an interested party in PSNC’s application.

PSNC Chief Executive Sue Sharpe said: “PSNC has spent the past twelve months trying to work constructively with the Department of Health and NHS England to enable community pharmacy to help the NHS to meet the increasing challenges that it faces.

“We have sought to avoid taking legal action and very much regret that the process the NHS has followed has made this impossible.”

A DH spokesperson said:

"We are committed to building a pharmacy sector that is fit for the 21st century. Our modernisation package will transform how pharmacists and their teams operate in the community - ensuring the public receives the very best care in the places they need it, seven days a week.

"We do not accept the grounds for judicial review and will seek to persuade the Court that the case is without merit.”

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