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PCTs that deliberately blocked 100-hour bids face legal action

Legal Law firm Charles Russell has said that deliberately ignoring 100-hour bids constituted a breach of the law, as businesses pursue substantial damages from PCTs that blocked applications until the cut-off date passed.

Pharmacists are seeking damages from PCTs that "deliberately" blocked their applications to open 100-hour pharmacies, lawyers have revealed.

Law firm Charles Russell said it was pursuing claims for "substantial damages" against trusts that failed to process 100-hour applications before the cut-off date of September 1.

And this rendered void some applications "validly submitted" before September's changes to control-of-entry regulations, the legal experts have argued.

Charles Russell head of healthcare David Reissner said he was "confident" that deliberately ignoring applications constituted a breach of the law

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Charles Russell head of healthcare David Reissner said he was confident that deliberately ignoring applications constituted a breach of the law – and PCTs faced the possibility of paying out substantial sums of money. Mr Reissner could not name the PCTs or companies involved as it could jeopardise the claims, he said.

Pharmacy companies told C+D they had not encountered any problems with the processing of their 100-hour applications. Tesco superintendent pharmacist Adrian Price said the supermarket had nothing to report, while independent chain MedicX Pharmacy said it had no experience of its applications being unduly delayed. Sainsbury's declined to comment.

The removal of the 100-hour exemption in September was backed by the overwhelming majority of respondents to the Department of Health's consultation on the issue. But the proposals faced opposition from Tesco and Asda, with Sainsbury's labelling them a retrograde step.

In the 2011-12 financial year, 716 applications were made to open 100-hour pharmacies, of which 92.5 per cent were granted, according to NHS figures released a fortnight ago.

If the exemption had continued, the DH estimated it would have seen a further 851 pharmacies open in the next 10 years – costing the NHS an estimated £72 million a year.

Do you think legal action against PCTs is justified?

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Al C, Community pharmacist

Sounds like somebody is touting for business to me

Nick Hunter, Community pharmacist

I came across several applications that claimed to have been sent in before the deadline, but on closer inspection, in particular of the post mark date showed the application was in fact submitted after the cut-off. Pretty sad that members of our profession would stoop so low as to attempt this. Needless to say the PCTs returned the applications.

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

Sounds like a case of sour grapes!
Partly, I would like to see these supposedly delayed 100-hrs applications granted but only if there is no leaway to amend the hours afterwards, as they would be granted on the basis of an exemption rather than a need. Then you'll see if it's what the applicant really wanted, when they have to bear the running costs for that number of hours.
On the other hand, applying under an exemption such as 100-hrs just shows you know you can't justify an additional contract by the more normal means and so does not genuinely improve the access to services; instead it just increases costs for the PCT while eroding the existing contracts.

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