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Chancellor convinced reluctant May about pharmacy cuts

Get the latest from the second day of PSNC and the NPA's legal challenge to the funding cuts in England, live from the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

REVEALED: Chancellor convinced hesitant Theresa May over pharmacy cuts
 
Chancellor Philip Hammond reassured a hesitant Theresa May that the pharmacy funding cuts were necessary, a letter has revealed.
 
According to the letter – sent from Mr Hammond to Ms May on August 11, 2016 – the Prime Minister was “concerned about the cuts and their potential effects on small and medium-sized enterprises”.
 
But the chancellor said he had “confidence in the Pharmacy Access Scheme” and stressed the cuts were a “good first step” towards “reforming the inefficient and over-subsidised” community pharmacy sector.
 
The letter – seen by C+D and revealed in the High Court today (March 22) – was sent just one month after Mr Hammond was made head of the Treasury, and four months before the 12% cut to funding in England came into force.
 
“I am writing to express my support for taking action,” Mr Hammond said. “The level of government subsidy to community pharmacy is too high.”
 
Mr Hammond claimed in the letter that £2.8 billion of the £10bn the government spends on “the [pharmacy] system”, is spent on “dispensing £7.2bn of medicines”.
 
He also recommended community pharmacy follow “trends in other retail markets” – such as the move from traditional bricks-and-mortar businesses “towards scaled-up, innovative supply solutions employing digital technology”. This would help “minimise government expenditure”, he stressed.
 
Read a copy of the letter here
 
For the full details of the second day of the High Court pharmacy funding battle, see below.

 

Welcome to C+D's rolling live coverage of the second day 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 click here to catch up on everything from yesterday's hearing – including the revelations about the secret government meeting that decided pharmacy's future.

For reference, 'AF' is PSNC's lawyer Alison Foster QC, 'JC' refers to judge Justice Collins, and DL refers to the NPA's lawyer David Lock QC. 'JE' is the Department of Health's QC, James Eadie.

 

C+D's digital reporter Thomas Cox rounds up day two of #CutsInCourt

Andrea James, partner at Knights Professional Services Limited and NPA legal adviser, gives expert legal commentary on today's hearing.

The NPA's Stephen Fishwick sheds some more light on the "sensational documents" revealed in court today. 

NPA chairman Ian Strachan "delighted" with how today's High Court hearing has gone. 

 

3.15pm: Mandeep Mudhar, director of marketing and professional development at Numark, shares his reactions:
 

“The arguments and evidence being presented in the High Court are continuing to show that the funding cuts are questionable to say the least. 

"It is so critical right now that we get to the bottom of this and ensure that community pharmacies, and the communities they serve, do not suffer the consequences of an ill-founded decision.”

1pm: As the judge “feels his way through pharmacy”, lawyer David Reissner comments on some of the points made so far:

Reissner: This sounds like the judge is feeling his way into the pharmacy world. Dispensing by Amazon isn’t really the issue. Reissner: This is a good start. One of the difficulties of cases like this is that most judges are men, and I think I’m right in saying women go to pharmacies far more than men. Reissner: I’m sure this is right. Post-referendum especially, there is going to be very little time for anything but Brexit. Reissner: If the cuts are stopped because the judicial reviews are successful, Jeremy Hunt may find he has to make cuts somewhere else, or he’s going to have to have a difficult conversation with the chancellor.

 

 

Are you hopeful the funding cuts will be quashed?

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