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Why the pharmacy cuts case focused on sandwiches and shampoo

Xrayser: The government's reference to sandwiches in Boots was "hard to swallow"
Xrayser: The government's reference to sandwiches in Boots was "hard to swallow"

After three days of evidence, revelations and "spiky" exchanges, C+D picks out the most memorable moments in the NPA and PSNC's legal challenge to the funding cuts in England.

1) The "insider" revelation

On the first day of proceedings, the High Court was presented with a heavily redacted 53-page government document, which revealed that senior Department of Health (DH) officials were advised about pharmacy's financial situation by an unknown sector insider in July 2015.

The minutes from the meeting describe the insider as having "experience of buying, selling and managing pharmacy businesses".

Community pharmacist Chris Mckendrick called for the full un-redacted document – and the name of the sector insider – to be made public.

"How can redacted documents mean 'full disclosure'?" he asked on the C+D website.

Read the full story here.


2) Prime Minister was "concerned" about pharmacy funding cuts

Day two and another – as the National Pharmacy Association's (NPA) Stephen Fishwick described – "sensational document" comes to light. This time a letter from chancellor Philip Hammond to Theresa May, reassuring her over the funding cuts.

According to the letter – which can be read here – the Prime Minister was “concerned about the cuts and their potential effects on small and medium-sized enterprises”.

Find out how Mr Hammond convinced Ms May here.

Watch Mr Fishwick summarise the NPA's reaction to this letter here.


3) Pharmacy staff "do shampoo"

This comment, made by the DH's lawyer James Eadie on the final day of proceedings, certainly caused a reaction on Twitter, and even prompted an outburst from one court attendee.


4) A "fag packet" plan for pharmacy

While otherwise reserved, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee's (PSNC) lawyer Alison Foster's description of the government's ill-conceived plans for the sector was used on a couple of occasions during the week.


5) "Spiky" exchanges

Court attendees suggest that at times the exchanges between judge Justice Collins and Mr Eadie became a little heated... 


6) #Sandwichgate

Mr Eadie's attempt to suggest that pharmacies don't just provide health services  by exclaiming "Boots in Waterloo sells sandwiches" – sparked some comic reactions on Twitter:


What next?


Watch C+D's deputy news editor Annabelle Collins wrap up the three days in court here

And finally...

What do you think the outcome of the High Court hearing will be?

Pharma Tron , Community pharmacist

Am I right in thinking that the goodwill valuation that the industry insider made reference to in his or her document being too high was there for contractors as a mitigation for not having an NHS pension? Impact on this value impacts on the goodwill values in the end, meaning that the government have been allowed to pick our pockets on two scores- first by not allowing us an NHS pension in the first place then severing what values the businesses are to have in the future. If I've crawled from under the right rock, then why hasn't much been made of the original purpose our contracts had a saleable value? I've a strong feeling that any victory we may have with all this will be pyrrhic at best! 

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

""The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) is taking the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) """


W T, Student

Lucky to have had a talk with Ian Strachan today. I asked him this question and was told that everything is currently on hold until the current ruling on the funding is finalised but it is still actively ongoing.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Was supposed to have been on the 23rd March. C&D any ideas?

Tariq Iqbal, Accuracy checking technician

MPs and DOH well the .... hit the fan. Dirty conservative politics. And not all MPs supported pharmacy. So those who didn't now the truth will make you look stupid. MPs go use hub and spoke.

ajaz akhtar, Student

£2.7I'm predicting it will soon be a free for all. Anyone opening a pharmacy anywhere. Market forces will make sure no one is neglected to access to a pharmacy. Those areas which are not viable with be subsidised by the government. Contractors remind me of the remoiners. One can't accept the ref result and the others can't accept the cuts. The cuts need to be more drastic 

Still way too much money in pharmacy. 

£2.7 billion in fees for sticking a label on a box and pull popping into dosette boxes. 

Paul Mayberry, Community pharmacist

Yes  there's the problem. People who don't understand the industry like some students and Secretary of States. Students will learn, but we should have educated important influencers like the SoS. 

You cant really argue that there aren't too many pharmacies in England. There are. It was caused by a previous government following the advice of the OFT to allow a pharmacy to open anywhere as long as they opened for>100 hours per week, not because of the establishment payment. I havent seen this explained anywhere. Why haven't we seen seen the PSNC pointing out this fact and defending the industry rather than ignoring the indefensible?

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

I was told about these cuts in 2014 when i was at a meeting at the DOH.  I know who this 'insider' is.

Dave Downham, Manager

No you don't.

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

please look at my previous comments you will see that i had mentioned double digit cuts back in 2014

Dave Downham, Manager

As I said, you don't know who the insider is. 

Tariq Iqbal, Accuracy checking technician

And you just woke up to tell us. Haha

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

i have mntioned it before but nobody paid any attention! Let me tell you another thing: Pharm Tech will be running the pharmacises ("what pharmacists do currently is unskilled , and waste of their time" so i was told.).  The clinical check will happen at the GP surgery, this is the plan and I was told this in 2014!!

Paul Mayberry, Community pharmacist

That's a good idea, if there were plenty of GP's and they didn't  have enough to do. And if you don't mind that the person who writes the Rx, checks the Rx and dispenses the Rx is the same person who writes the death certificates. 

Paul Mayberry, Community pharmacist

Tech's should be running pharmacies. Pharmacists should be delegating anything that can be delegated, and automating anything that can be automated. They should then be adding value to the dispensing process by spending time with the patient, checking that they know how to take their new medicines (NMS), and how to use their regular medicines (MURs) and importantly making sure that patient outcomes are improved. GP workload could be reduced by increasing Repeat Dispensing, managed by community pharmacists, who could then perform annual reviews for conditions like asthma to keep well controlled patients out of GP surgeries, so that GPs can concentrate on those that really need to see a doctor.

ajaz akhtar, Student

Agree freelance..... glorified shop keepers 


Andy Burrells, Community pharmacist

If this is what you honestly think you've never watched a real community pharmacist in action

ajaz akhtar, Student

ACTs are the future. 

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

So currently GPs prescribe without making a clinical check?

Chris Mckendrick, Community pharmacist

What's the point of posting that? Name please 

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

There's got to be an ulterior motive here - I just don't believe someone is doing this for the common good. I bet it's someone on the payroll of a large multiple - squeeze out the independents and consolidate.

Chris Mckendrick, Community pharmacist

Careful....That sounds suspiciously like something a contractor would say....

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

I know, it's not like me is it - I did hesitate briefly before I hit the 'Post' button though. Can't resist a good conspiracy theory!

Mike Hewitson, Superintendent Pharmacist

Maybe deepthroat is 'S Morein' frequent poster on C&D, especially about pharmacy profitability. Nothing would surprise me. 

Derogatory sandwich remarks just about equal the appalling prejudice from the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer's conference where he suggested that community pharmacy has a problem with quality because GPhC has only related 4 pharmacies as excellent. 

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Maybe stocking crayfish & rocket sandwiches would help the quality ratings? 

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Soon they won't even need to bother with inspections - just check the NHS pharmacy  reviews page.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I am personally impartial to a bit of bree and bacon myself.

ajaz akhtar, Student

I believe you are what you eat...bacon comes from ? 

Dave Downham, Manager

Does that make you a vegetable?

ajaz akhtar, Student



According to insider doc operating a 100 hour pharmacy is only viable if you have revenue of £1m. Hope to bring more insights #CutsInCourt




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