I was standing at the dispensary bench when the man walked in. This was a few weeks after the successful legal challenge to the pharmacy cuts, and I was thinking about how I might spend the money refunded by NHS England. The flooring needed replacing, and perhaps I could offer Sara the ACT that training she wants.
The man was closely followed by a woman in a business suit. She carried a briefcase and an air of purpose. I recognised the man as a regular purchaser of codeine linctus and co-codamol, and walked to the counter to meet him.
“Hello Tig,” I said. “What do you want? You know I can’t sell you any codeine.” He smiled a rather toothy smile, with a few gaps. “Ah well, Mr Xrayser,” he began “You see that’s where you’re wrong. Miss Timms here…” he indicated the smartly dressed lady, “well, she’s my brief. I’ll let her explain.”
Miss Timms stepped forward and said “Mr Xrayser? Owner and superintendent of Xrayser Pharmacy?” “Yes,” I replied. She handed me an envelope. “This is a statutory tort on behalf of my client, requiring recompense for your denial of his acquisition of opiates necessary for his rightful quality of life.”
I was speechless for a moment, but then frowned and said: “No – the Medicines Act is clear. I have a legal and ethical right to restrict sales of ‘pharmacy medicines’.”
“Yes, that used to be the case,” she replied. “But the recent legal victory overturning the pharmacy cuts set a precedent. The National Pharmacy Association lawyers won their case on the basis that the cuts failed to consider the impact on the disabled and people from minority communities, and the disproportionate effect on people with legally protected characteristics, such as those living in the most deprived areas.
“You are making the same error in not considering those aspects of my client, and your repeated refusal to supply these pharmaceuticals is in breach of his human rights."
"Well, good luck in finding any spare money I have for compensation!" I retorted.
"That's just it Mr Xrayser – pharmacies are about to be reimbursed for the pharmacy cuts and that will allow every pharmacy visited by my client, and those like him, to be compensated. It's the law of unintended consequences, I'm afraid." She handed me a demand for payment and attached to it was my FP34, due in a few weeks. The sum matched my NHS repayment exactly.
"Just a minute," I replied "How do you know about my next NHS payment – it's not been released yet. Have you been put up to this? And the sum for compensation – that's almost exactly the amount I would have lost through the pharmacy cuts. How long has this been going on?"