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Lawyers formally warn Burt about 'legally flawed' cuts

Law firm Charles Russell Speechlys has a "number of clients" ready to take the government to court, senior partner David Reissner says

The prospect of legal action against government funding cuts has drawn closer, with lawyers writing to the pharmacy minister to warn that his plans are "legally flawed".

Law firm Charles Russell Speechlys has a "number of clients" ready to take the government to court over its planned 6% cut to the global sum in England, senior partner David Reissner told C+D last week (March 4).

The firm has given pharmacy minister Alistair Burt a deadline of 4pm on March 18 to respond to a letter on the cuts. Depending on his response, its clients may launch legal action, Mr Reissner said.

If it begins legal proceedings, the firm will ask other clients – including pharmacy bodies – to join the action, he said. 

The move comes after Mr Reissner's clients received advice from a Queen's Counsel (QC) – a group of eminent lawyers – that a consultation on funding changes is a legal requirement.

The QC told the clients that the government must keep an "open mind" about any funding changes until the consultation has finished, Mr Reissner said.

Mr Burt admitted last month that funding cuts were already "settled", despite an ongoing government consultation on pharmacy funding with representative bodies.

"I am working to a budget the Department [of Health] has been set... [that is] the hand I have been dealt. The money has to be found," he added.


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