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NPA lawyer: High Court case has 'repercussions' across NHS

Andrea James: Questions remain unanswered about how cuts were decided
Andrea James: Questions remain unanswered about how cuts were decided

Pharmacy's failed High Court challenge to the funding cuts “has repercussions across the NHS”, according to a leading lawyer involved in the case.

The National Pharmacy Association's (NPA) legal argument against the funding cuts in England – that the government had not considered the effect on the disabled, the elderly and those from black and ethnic minority communities – was dismissed "with regret" by a High Court judge yesterday (May 18).

Andrea James, partner at law firm Knights 1759 who represented the NPA, told C+D that despite this failure, a legal precedent had been set – which is a “key achievement” in itself.

"The Department of Health argued that [its] obligation to reduce health inequalities was not a very robust duty at all," Ms James said. "The judge said [the DH] got that quite wrong."

“That does have repercussions [for] the weight the government will have to attach to the duty to reduce health inequalities when they're making decisions,” Ms James explained in an exclusive podcast with C+D (listen below).

Sinister and deliberate?

Ms James also questioned whether the “incorrect information” given by chancellor Philip Hammond and health secretary Jeremy Hunt to Theresa May about the services pharmacies are remunerated for was “something more sinister and deliberate”.

“The court…never explained how they did that. Those questions remain unanswered,” she added.

In C+D's podcast, NPA chair Ian Strachan joins Ms James to describe the High Court judgment as a "huge step forward". Listen below to find out why, and where the sector goes from here.

Do you think there are positive aspects to pharmacy's High Court defeat?

Roger Kramer, Senior Management

It would be interesting to know how the press covered the whole saga, including contents of the verdict and the pronouncements wiithin it. Will they be following through about the "incorrect information"?!

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