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Pharmacists Lose Battle to Overturn Government Cuts to Community Pharmacy

Following a High Court ruling, Pharmacists have lost their battle to overturn the government’s decision to impose far-reaching cuts on community pharmacy services in England. In march 2017, the court hearings were held and the ruling was published at the end of last week.

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA), says the ruling means that, in future, ministers, will be obliged to pay more attention to the effect of health policies on underprivileged communities served by pharmacies and other care providers.

A legal challenge has been mounted by the NPA that government cuts to the community pharmacy budget were unlawful because the Department of Health (DoH) had failed to consider properly the likely impact on the neediest in society.

Commenting on the ruling, Ian Strachan, the chairman of the NPA said that the judge said the decision to make cuts was lawful, not that it was judicious. The Court proceedings had showed a “distressing lack of understanding at the very heart of government about the role which community pharmacy plays in the National Health Service (NHS).

He called on the next government to “grab this opportunity to change course,” and to “enter into helpful discussions about a positive way forward for the sector, patients, and the NHS".

As a result of the cuts Mr Justice Collins predicted hardship in deprived areas and said that the criticism of the Department of Health’s “less than satisfactory approach” was justified. He also pointed to the “real risk” of putting more pressure on GPs as a result of the cuts.

Sandra Gidley, the chair of RPS England said the government is not making the most of what community pharmacy has to offer. Without exception, reports on community pharmacy focus the enormous potential for improving care of patients with long-term illnesses and supporting public health.

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