The Court of Appeal today (August 23) upheld the High Court ruling that the funding cuts imposed on community pharmacies in England by the Department of Health were not unlawful.
PSNC and the NPA both brought Judicial Review cases following the Secretary of State’s decision to impose funding reductions on community pharmacies in October 2016. In May 2017 a High Court judge ruled that the decision to impose the reductions had not been unlawful.
PSNC and NPA both appealed this judgment. The cases were heard in May and the judgment was handed down today.
In dismissing the Appeals, the three Court of Appeal judges said “there is no principle of law” which would render the funding changes unlawful, even if a reduction in the numbers of community pharmacies was expected. However, they added: “It was regrettable that the process was not more open.”
This ruling means the current community pharmacy funding arrangements will remain in place.
The NPA’s appeal was also dismissed.
PSNC says it now expects funding negotiations for 2018/19 to begin shortly and its ambition is “to return to a collaborative working relationship with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England on funding and other matters”.
The NPA said it was “naturally disappointed” at today’s judgment. Chairman Nitin Sodha urged all parties to seize the moment to engage in dialogue and called on the new health secretary, Matt Hancock, to fulfil his recent commitment to invest in community pharmacy.
Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the Company Chemists’ Association, said: “The impact of pharmacy funding cuts has already been significant and is likely to continue to affect all parts of the sector in the months and years ahead. Although the outcome of the judicial review today is disappointing ... we look forward to working with our partners within the pharmacy sector and Government to enable community pharmacy to reach its full potential.”