On 20th October 2016, the Secretary of State imposed funding cuts and other changes on community pharmacy. PSNC sought Judicial Review of the decision.
On 18 May 2017, Mr Justice Collins gave his judgment, finding against PSNC, but criticising the Department of Health’s (DH’s) consultation process, stating that it was unfair, but not so unfair as to be unlawful. DH had failed to disclose its use of a Companies House analysis that it said showed community pharmacies have an operating margin of 15%.
In giving permission for PSNC to appeal, Mr Justice Collins stated:
‘While naturally I am not persuaded that I failed in any of the respects alleged … I recognise the real effect of the cuts on pharmacies and the apparent reliance on the 15% and the non-disclosure.’
The appeal is not likely to be heard for several months.
Sue Sharpe, PSNC’s CEO, said:
“We hope that we will be able to have constructive discussions with DH and NHS England. Ideally we would like those to mean we did not need to pursue an appeal, but PSNC will do what it feels is right to protect pharmacies and the patients they care for”.
Mark Burdon, Regional PSNC Rep said:
“I’m very disappointed that we were not able to meet the very high threshold needed to prove that the Department’s actions were unlawful and needed review. Of course any legal process costs money, but the sums of money involved, although large, are nothing in comparison with the cuts that we were seeking to prevent.
We felt that we needed to challenge the conduct of the Department, in particular its reliance on a 15% operating margin figure for community pharmacy and withholding information from us, in order to do our best to support the interests of contractors."