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.