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High Court to hear NPA and PSNC cuts cases together

NPA's David Simons: This is likely to be a big case that will attract national coverage

"The sector will have its day in court," the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) chief operating officer has told C+D.

Both the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee's (PSNC) and the NPA's legal challenges to the pharmacy funding cuts will be heard in a joint sitting, the NPA has confirmed.

The joint hearing will take place in the High Court in the week beginning March 20, NPA chief operating officer David Simons confirmed to C+D yesterday (January 12). 

"The sector has been very fortunate to get its day in court, as 92% of judicial reviews fail at the first hurdle," Mr Simons said. 

Speaking to C+D following a hearing in the Administrative Court, Mr Simons said he expects this to be a "big case" which is likely to attract "national media coverage". 

"The judge is clearly very interested in this case," he said. The fact that the Department of Health (DH) has put its "number one team on the case...shows how important it is to them," he added.

PSNC announced last month that it had sought a judicial review on the funding cuts, on the grounds that the secretary of state “failed to carry out a lawful consultation” on the proposals for the sector. 

The NPA launched its own challenge against the cuts on the grounds that the 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. 

The NPA was also named as an "interested party" in PSNC's challenge. 

Background to the hearing

The High Court had originally granted PSNC a judicial review for the second week of February

But rather than hear “two reviews of the same decision”, the judge, Mr Justice Ouseley, has ruled to hear both cases in March, Mr Simons said.

“This is good news for [pharmacy], because many people feel they have been wronged. But only the court can decide whether they have been wronged legally.”

Andrea James, a lawyer acting on behalf of the NPA said the administrative division of the High Court has ordered a “rolled-up hearing” of the NPA’s case.

Mr Simons said the NPA is “pretty pleased with the outcome”.

“It might not change the ultimate decision [to cut funding], but “it is not to say that [the High Court] can’t make some pretty strong comments about the way the government has conducted itself,” he added.

What do you think the outcome of the case will be?

Dilip Shah, Community pharmacist

This is probably the first time in recent history of pharmacy that our representatives have taken a bold step in taking this Govt to court, it is a landmark action and even if we do not win in the courts, it will send a clear message to the NHS to take our profession seriously.Good Luck .




Dipak Pau, Community pharmacist

Mr Hunt "earned" £15 Million for his stake in Hotcourses. Will the Dept for Education and other governmental agencies now evalute the funding of these courses and decide that the company made far too much money and funding of courses promoted by Hotcourses et al. I very much doubt it.

Priyesh Desai, Superintendent Pharmacist

shouldnt they both have acted jointly? it would have been cheaper at least. I suppose they dont talk to each other

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Bet the lawyers are rubbing their greasy mitts together.

M Yang, Community pharmacist

Interesting comment, considering this judicial review is concerned with the funding for the community pharmacy sector i.e. payment for our services to the public. Perhaps the lawyers should do it for free? I know lawyers who stay in their office into the late hours of the evening several times a week (without being paid for this overtime) with a long commute to and from their home. It isn't the leisurely work we think it is, lawyers suffer burnout too. I've had one family member's husband talk about me "rubbing my hands together in glee" if there's an epidemic, like I'm some sort of profit hungry maniac who delights in making money off other peoples' ill health. He also said, in the same conversation, "pharmacists don't make much money, it's more of a hobby for you, isn't it?" thus completely obliterating what he said earlier!

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

True, it was a bit facetious of me. I guess there are some decent ones out there.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Makes it easier to fob them both off at the same time I suppose.

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