As I write this, I keep glancing up at the calendar thinking it must be April Fool’s day. What else would possibly explain some of the exchanges in the Royal Courts of Justice during the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) and National Pharmacy Association’s (NPA) legal challenge to the pharmacy funding cuts in England.
The court schedule described it as: “The Queen on the application of PSNC v secretary of state for health”, and after the three-day charade that followed I wouldn’t have been surprised if Her Majesty had burst into the court shouting: “Off with his head!” As it was, we were treated to dialogue that wouldn’t be out of place in a theatre farce, with the Treasury’s barrister playing the lead in ‘The Play That Went Wrong’.
If nothing else, I learned so much that I'm considering a CPD entry. Firstly, according to the Department of Health, I will survive the cuts not by offering my patients services and medicines, but a chicken baguette or a BLT, since it is their delusional belief that money to pay staff wages comes from selling shampoo and sandwiches.
Not since the lawyer prosecuting the publishers of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ in 1960 uttered the infamous words, “Is it a book that you would even wish your wife or your servants to read?” has a member of the legal profession demonstrated himself to be so out of touch with everyday life. With echoes of the Tory MP who described pharmacists as "counting smarties", it seems this food-obsessed government can’t tell the difference between healthcare and cookery, or between arse and elbow.
What else did we learn, apart from the somewhat obscure fact that the judge lives next door to the parent of a pharmacist? Well, there’s the revelation surrounding an “industry insider” who apparently blew the whistle on pharmacies being very profitable. So, a government formed by the party of big companies and small businesses, whose profits fund the nation’s tax bill, is shocked and disappointed by the fact that pharmacies must be commercially successful to survive.
This also means that the secretary of state would rather base healthcare provision in this country on the experience of a single anonymous person with a grudge, while ignoring professional assessments by PSNC and the experience of two million people.
In the end, this is political history repeating itself. The lives of millions of people scourged by a dodgy dossier that’s been 'sexed' up for the benefit of ministers who are ignoring the will of the public. The last time this happened it led to the invasion of foreign country. But if this isn’t recognized for an omnishambles, then it is our country that will suffer this time.
C+D reported live from the High Court legal challenge to the pharmacy cuts. Remind yourself how the sector got to this point and catch up with all the coverage here.