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Chancellor convinced reluctant May about pharmacy cuts

Day two sees David Lock QC put the NPA's case to the High Court

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?

L H, Community pharmacist

Dear all at C&D.  I've been meaning to mention this for some time but the multitude of interviews recently has really brought it home.  Could you please invest £15 in a plug in microphone that you can clip on to the interviewee's shirt/jacket/lapel please? (or spend a touch more if you like).  The ambient noise, whether in a secluded room (echo galore) or seemingly in the middle of the street on The Strand is taking away from the value of what is being said.  Thank you for making the effort to interview people and utilise those fangled new "smartphones" but my old timer ears loses a chunck of what is said in most interviews.  Thanks!

SydBashford Sold&Retired&DeRegistered, Community pharmacist

So, if DOH claims that pharmacy is making "excessive profits" , then they completely contradict themselves by planning cuts of £25,000 funding to intentionally force thousands to close, and force large scale dispensing factories to develop on the lower payments....

The trouble is we don't drive white vans at 90mph, have St George's cross flags hanging out of our windows and do "discounts" for cash. These are the prerequisites to get a U-turn from May and Hammond

Mr CAUSTIC, Community pharmacist

If someone orders something from amazon for themselves and they cannot get to the door in time to receive it they will be annoyed. If someone with hypertension orders drugs from a mail order pharmacy and they do not get their drugs in time they could have a heart attack or stroke. Has an assessment been made of the cost of admission of these patients to hospital under these circumstances. Has an estimate been made of the savings on pensions and benefit payments to patients who do not receive their medications on time ? Most people receiving medication will be receiving some form of top up payment from the government .Look at the percentage of no charge items we dispense.

The government has wanted to reduce the number of small pharmacies for years. The only difference this time is they put in black and white the figure. Instead of the usual gradual turning of the screw they decided on removing a large chunk of payment to be replacent by a small payment per script to benefit the larger pharmacies.

, Superintendent Pharmacist

Doctors prescribe with full patient history using computers. They should trap interactions and have full legal responsibility. The public often fill pill boxes for relatives. Why do pharmacists need to stick labels on boxes? Dispensing does not require pharmacists or a degree. The role is redundant.  It is too expensive and not cost effective.

Chris Mckendrick, Community pharmacist

Hey "Superintendent", you're not the nameless "insider" are you? It's funny but even with full patient histories and computors at their disposal we still pick up GP mistakes and if you are in the business of dispensing without a pharmacy degree, you're doing it blind. My role is not redundant as far as my customers are concerned and as for cost effective you obviously know the price of everything but not it's value.

SydBashford Sold&Retired&DeRegistered, Community pharmacist

Pharmacists dont need to... but they CERTAINLY need to keep an eye on those that do, and provide a clinical oversight.....
Not a superintendant for a DD are we?

SydBashford Sold&Retired&DeRegistered, Community pharmacist

looks like DOH are getting a bit of a battering over this... lets hope its kept up.


Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

James, how about a reader's poll 'do you think the cuts will be repealed'? Would be interesting to see what the mood is.

Andy Burrells, Community pharmacist

I doubt they will, but it would be nice to see someone higher than the government tell them they were in the wrong

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