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Lawyer: £10 from every pharmacy is enough to challenge cuts

Lawyers at law firm Charles Russell Speechlys are asking pharmacists to contribute to the cost of a legal challenge against the pharmacy funding cuts.

Noel Wardle, a partner at the firm, said the sector would need to raise “a low six-figure sum” to fund the cost of a senior lawyer taking the “urgent hearings” to court.

Mr Wardle said he is “very confident” that community pharmacists could pursue legal proceedings, as the government’s decision to cut the pharmacy budget in England by £113 million from December – and the process in which the funding cuts were decided – are “legally flawed”.

“If every pharmacy contributed £10 to the cause – [less than] half a medicines use review [payment] – then we’d be home and dry,” he told C+D. 

“And in the grand scheme of there being around 11,500 community pharmacies in England, that is a tiny amount.”

Mr Wardle said the crowd-funding scheme has not attracted a “huge amount of contact” from pharmacists yet, but the firm has been approached in relation to a legal challenge.

Initial plans to launch legal proceedings against the funding proposals, first published in December 2015, stalled in April when the government said it was still in “consultation stages” with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, Mr Wardle said.

“That stage has finished now,” he said, so we’ll “pick up where we left off”.

Back to where we started

Mr Wardle told C+D that pharmacists would either have to “knuckle down and get on with” the funding drop, or pursue a legal challenge.

“I’m not saying [the campaigning, petitions and parliamentary questions] were the wrong approach, but with the benefit of hindsight, it frankly doesn’t appear to have made any difference,” Mr Wardle said.

“We have the funding cut that we were going to have last December, just with a couple of tweaks, so we’re in the same position we were 10-11 months ago.”

“This funding cut is irrational,” he stressed.

Last week (October 21) The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) confirmed that it was looking into "legal avenues" over the funding cuts

Will you be contributing to the costs of a legal challenge?

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