Appeals against a judge’s refusal to grant a judicial review into government community pharmacy funding cuts are to be heard from 22 May 2018.
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) and the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) will have their cases heard jointly at the Court of Appeal in London, almost exactly a year since the High Court ruled against a review.
The PSNC has said it does not expect the case to interfere with forthcoming negotiations on a new community pharmacy contract.
Following a High Court hearing in May 2017, Justice Collins said he would not quash the then Department of Health’s (DH) decision to impose cuts on the community pharmacy budget, but he gave leave to the PSNC and PDA, who brought the cases, to appeal his decision.
The PSNC had argued that the DH based its original decision on poor data, which it did not disclose, rather than updating existing high-quality data.
It argued that the DH had failed to disclose that it had carried out an analysis of pharmacies’ profitability using Companies House data as part of its impact assessment and did not provide this analysis to the PSNC promptly after the publication of the impact assessment.
The NPA had argued that the DH had failed to properly consider the impact of the cuts in deprived areas.
Andrew Lane, vice chair of the NPA, said: “The High Court judgment vindicated our stance on health inequalities and we now want to see that flow through to a logical and fair conclusion. Had the DH properly considered the impact of its cuts, it would have realised that the cuts will ultimately have a disproportionate effect on people living in the most deprived areas of England, where there is already a lack of NHS provision.”
Gordon Hockey, director of operations and support at the PSNC, said: “The PSNC has always regretted very much that it became necessary to take the unprecedented step of seeking a judicial review. We have always sought to work constructively and collaboratively with the NHS and the DH, and hope to begin substantive discussions with them on the future of community pharmacy very soon.”
The hearing is expected to last up to three days, but the outcome of the case may not be known for several weeks.