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NPA asks High Court to protect ‘vital frontline services’

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has taken its legal challenge against the funding cuts to the High Court.

The organisation said the Department of Health (DH) failed to consider the impact its 12% cut to the sector’s funding in England will have on the elderly, the disabled and those from black and ethnic minority communities.

It argued that if the DH had “properly considered” the cuts, it would have realised they will have a “disproportionate effect” on people with legally protected characteristics and those in the most deprived areas of the country.

The NPA sent a “pre-action” letter to the DH in November, announcing its plans to pursue legal action. On Tuesday (December 13) it confirmed its “formal launch of High Court proceedings”.

NPA chairman Ian Strachan said the organisation has been “driven” to take this step by the “intransigence” of the DH in the face of widespread public concern about the approach they are taking to the “vital frontline services provided by local pharmacies”.

“Despite protests from patients, healthcare professionals, MPs and local government, ministers have so far persisted with plans for cuts that will hit the poorest communities and the most vulnerable patients hardest,” Mr Strachan said.

“Even as we take this next step, we invite the DH to step back from the precipice and enter into constructive discussions about a positive way forward for the sector and the NHS,” he added.

The High Court is in recess until January 11, so no decision can be made before then about whether the NPA will be granted leave to proceed, the organisation said.

The NPA is also a named “interested party” in the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee’s own legal action against the cuts, it added.

The DH said it does not accept the grounds for judicial review and aims to persuade the court that the NPA’s case is “without merit”.

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