National Pharmacy Association launches legal challenge to pharmacy cuts
The National Pharmacy Association (NPA), the UK-wide association for independent community pharmacies, has launched a legal challenge to the Department of Health's decision to cut community pharmacy funding in England with effect from 1 December 2016.
The NPA’s challenge is partly based on the Department of Health’s failure to consider the impact its cuts will have on the elderly, the disabled and people from BME (black and minority ethnic) communities. Had the Department of Health properly considered the impact of its cuts, it would have realised that the cuts will have a disproportionate effect on people with legally protected characteristics and those who live in the most deprived areas of England, where there is already a lack of NHS healthcare provision.
Chairman of the NPA, Ian Strachan, explained:
“Despite protests from patients, health care professionals, MPs and local government, Ministers have so far persisted with plans for cuts that will hit the poorest communities and the most vulnerable patients hardest. We have been reasonable and measured throughout our campaign to secure a viable future for local pharmacies. It is a shame that we have been driven to a position in which we have no option but to take legal avenues. Even at this stage, we invite the Department of Health to step back from the precipice and enter into constructive discussions about a positive way forward for the sector and the NHS.”
Andrea James, a Partner at LHS Solicitors who acts on behalf of the NPA, said:
“This is a significant challenge to the Department of Health, which has failed to carry out any effective Equality Impact Assessment to understand the effect of its illogical cuts on patients and community pharmacies. The NPA is bringing this challenge to protect some of the most deprived communities across England and the dedicated pharmacists who serve them”.
It is understood that other legal actions involving parties other than the NPA are also being considered.