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REVEALED: The secret meeting that decided pharmacy's future

C+D's rundown of the first day of PSNC and the NPA's legal challenge to the funding cuts in England at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

REVEALED: Government’s secret meeting with pharmacy ‘insider’ to decide sector’s future

Senior Department of Health (DH) officials seemed to base their decision to cut community pharmacy funding on a meeting with an unknown sector insider, documents have suggested.

The details of the 2015 meeting are revealed in a heavily redacted 53-page government document, seen by C+D during the first day of the High Court challenge to the funding cuts.

Speaking exclusively to C+D after the documents were revealed in court, National Pharmacy Association board member Mike Hewitson said that rather than take note of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee’s cost of services enquiries into community pharmacy from both 2005 and 2011, the government appeared to have based its policy on the “words of a single person in a private meeting”.

“The government appears to have taken away from that meeting the impression that pharmacies are excessively profitable,” Mr Hewitson said.

Mr Hewitson questioned the credibility of the unnamed individual, who according to the meeting notes told DH officials in July 2015 that “some pharmacy businesses are making 40-60% private income on top of NHS income”.

Mr Hewitson added: “We don’t know the origins of the [insider]; we don’t know if they are a credible witness; or whether they have an axe to grind or have commercial conflicts of interest.”

“It seems like a really dodgy piece of policy work.”

The minutes from the meeting – which state that the unnamed individual had “experience of buying, selling and managing pharmacy businesses” – were then ordered to be destroyed, attendees at the High Court hearing were told today.

For the full details of the first day of the High Court pharmacy funding battle, see below.

C+D will be reporting live from the High Court again tomorrow.


Below is C+D's live coverage from the first day (March 21) of the pharmacy funding cuts case in the High Court in London. For information on all the key players, as well as how the sector got to this point, read our in-depth summary here.

Follow @CandDAnnabelle for real-time updates on Twitter, or catch up on the second day of the hearing here.

For reference, 'AF' is PSNC's lawyer Alison Foster QC, and 'JC' refers to judge Justice Collins


The NPA's Stephen Fishwick talks "flawed premises" and inadequate government planning, after day one of #CutsInCourt

C+D deputy news editor Annabelle Collins wraps up day one of #CutsInCourt


As the court hears the legal precedents behind the case, Xrayser imagines what a win for the sector might look like. Read the full article here 



Are you hopeful the funding cuts will be quashed?

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