Annual Pharmacy Law Conference 

Delegates to the conference included the usual mix of pharmacy owners, with representatives from the largest multiples to single pharmacies, and intermediaries, including banks, accountants, agents, valuers and consultants.

This year, as well as looking at the impact on the law on community pharmacy, reviewing recent regulatory changes and offering insights into forthcoming changes, delegates were able to use an online voting system Slido to express opinions in real time.

The Connected Generation: Rebooting Family Business Succession for the Digital Age

Many of our clients are involved in family businesses. The day before the conference, Charles Russell Speechlys launched its latest report: The Connected Generation. The firm interviewed family business leaders from across the world and their advisers. The report lays out their views and our recommended approach for what family businesses must do to ensure they secure their future growth.

The report addresses the twin challenges of successional change and digitisation. You can read more and download the report here.

Regulatory Update

We looked back over changes in pharmacy regulation (both legal and ethical) since the 2016 conference, and forward to changes coming down the line.

Our presentation covered two recent cases involving pharmacists and how the General Pharmaceutical Council deals with concerns about a pharmacist's private life. This linked into a review of forthcoming changes to the Standards for Pharmacy Professionals and the judicial review case mentioned below.

Merging Pharmacies

Using our unique combination of expertise in pharmacy regulations and pharmacy transactions, we looked at new regulations which allow pharmacies to merge without the risk of a competitor applying to replace one of the merged pharmacies. Through a practical scenario of two separately-owned pharmacies merging onto one site, we explained how a merger might work and what should be considered, covering regulatory and business issues including what would have to be agreed between the merging pharmacies in terms of ownership of the new venture; carrying out due diligence so that each party understands the business; how to make sure that both parties to the merger remain committed to the joint venture; and how to protect the business if the merging parties fall out.

When two pharmacies merge, it is likely that there will be too many staff for the singleremaining pharmacy. Ben Smith, a partner in our employment team, gave an overview of the employment obligations that need to be followed to avoid significant penalties for breaches of employment law.

Finally, Claire Timmings considered the practical implications of closing a pharmacy from a property point of view, including how to deal with any unwanted lease.

Pharmacy Law and Ethics Association

The Pharmacy Law and Ethics Association (PLEA), aims to bring together people from different parts of the sector who have an interest in pharmacy law and ethics, including many of our readers. Members include pharmacists, pharmacy academics, and lawyers. David Reissner was delighted to be elected as the Chair of PLEA at its recent AGM. If any of our readers are interested in finding out more about PLEA or becoming a member, please email David at david.reissner@crsblaw.com or visit www.plea.org.uk.

NHS England Cases

Our recent NHS England cases include:

  • Successful grant of an application for a no significant change relocation in Woolwich following an oral hearing
  • Successful appeal against a breach notice relating to a failure to undertake a patient satisfaction survey
  • Successful application for a review of a decision of NHS England not to include our client in the list of pharmacies eligible for the Pharmacy Access Scheme

Suffered at the Hands of Capita?

For many months now, NHS England has outsourced the handling of market entry applications to Capita. Many pharmacy owners have suffered from delays and errors in Capita's handling of cases. Capita has now set up a compensation scheme for anyone who has suffered losses.

Details of the compensation scheme can be found here or email stephanie.palmer@crsblaw.com to find out more.

Professional Standards

With so much attention understandably being focussed on the legal challenges to the remuneration cuts, it is not suprising that a significant High Court case involving professional standards for pharmacists did not receive as much attention.

Mr Justice Singh rejected the PDA's arugments that a requirement for pharmacists to "behave professionally...at all times" would extend the definition of misconduct to trivial matters and that regulating conduct at all times would intrude on pharmacists' private lives. The judge said that if pharmacists are not polite over a board game, they will not need to lose sleep, but there may be occasions outside a work context, such as a racist rant on Twitter, that may be relevant to whether a pharmacist's fitness to practise is impaired.

In fact, we've discovered that there is a board game named Pharmacy. The publishers say it's an "edgy board game that offers players a fun-filled `trip' around the game board with questions on legal and illegal drugs, alcohol and pop culture." Maybe we'll stick to Cluedo.