The Pharmacist September/October 2018 - Page 6

NEWS Business news A round-up of the biggest stories affecting your business. Reporting by Léa Legraien 1 Court of Appeal upholds pharmacy cuts following legal battle with sector The Court of Appeal has decided to uphold the Government’s cuts to community pharmacy funding. This means that current funding arrangements will stay in place until the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) negotiates a new contract with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). In May, the PSNC and the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) appealed against last year’s High Court ruling that the cuts were not unlawful. According to PSNC, in dismissing the appeals the judges said there is ‘no principle of law’ that would make the cuts unlawful, even if pharmacy closures were expected. NPA chair Nitin Sodha said the lobbying group is ‘naturally disappointed’ by the decision, but stressed it is ‘eager to move to a new chapter in which there are urgent discussions about fulfilling community pharmacy’s potential to improve the nation’s health’. A DHSC spokesperson said: ‘We welcome the Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold the Government’s position on this case. ‘The department remains committed to working collaboratively with the sector to determine arrangements for community pharmacy in the future.’ The saga began in October 2016, when the Government imposed a funding package that saw community pharmacy’s funding reduced by £321m over two years. PSNC and the NPA mounted separate legal challenges to the decision in late 2016. The NPA’s case against the cuts argued that the DHSC failed to ‘properly consider the impact of the cuts in deprived areas’, whereas PSNC’s case argued that the health secretary failed to carry out a lawful consultation on the cuts. Both cases were heard together in the High Court in March last year. The judge, Mr Justice Collins, ‘regretfully’ decided that the cuts were not unlawful and therefore could not be quashed. 2 Stockpiling medicines could cost Government £2bn, says anti-Brexit campaign group The ruling marks the latest twist in the case between the Government and the sector 6 | The Pharmacist | September/October 2018 Plans to hold an extra six weeks’ worth of medicine supplies if the Government fails to reach a Brexit deal by the 29 March deadline could cost up to £2bn, the campaign group Best for Britain has said. The estimated cost was based on data obtained by the King’s Fund think-tank, which showed NHS England spent £17.4bn on medicines in 2016/17. A Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) spokesperson told The Pharmacist on 29 August that ‘at this stage, the department is only asking suppliers to provide specific information on their stockpiling programme to gauge how prepared the industry is before we decide the next steps’. They said: ‘We have put in place a dedicated team to support suppliers in making arrangements for stockpiling and we will work with companies to develop plans to minimise any additional costs of stockpiling.’ In July, health secretary Matt Hancock told the Health and Social Care Committee he might consider stockpiling drugs for the