Pharmacy Corporates – New Governance Requirements

New governance procedures apply to all UK pharmacy companies (and limited liability partnerships).

Corporate bodies now need to maintain a register of people who have “Significant Control” over the affairs of the business. The register will need to be open for inspection (subject to certain exceptions). From 30 June 2016, information from the register will need to be included in an annual statement to Companies House.

“Significant Control” is not a simple concept and is not limited to equity owners of a business. Persons who have Significant Control over a corporate business will also have a duty to check that their details have been properly recorded and notified by the owners of that business. The regime is complex and failure to comply is a criminal offence.

Fitness to Practise

The High Court has recently dealt with two appeals against decisions of the GPhC’s Fitness to Practise Committee.

In the first case, Katharine Burrows had accepted a police caution for shoplifting. The sum involved was relatively small. She did not attend her GPhC hearing because she had booked a holiday. She sent her lawyers (not us!) instead.

The Fitness to Practise Committee struck her off. Her appeal was unsuccessful. Mr Justice Kerr held that in any case involving dishonesty, non-attendance invited a striking off decision, and that disciplinary bodies like the GPhC should forewarn registrants not only that cases would proceed in their absence, but also that the consequences of non- attendance were likely to be severely prejudicial. In other words, handled in the right way, Ms Burrows might not have been struck off.

Supervision and RPs

The second Fitness to Practise case is important because it is the first time the High Court has considered the meaning of “supervision” since 1952, and is the first time the High Court has considered the duties of responsible pharmacists.

The case was yet another which followed the BBC’s Inside Out programme, exposing pharmacies that sold prescription medicines without prescriptions. Mohammed Abdul- Razzak had been a responsible pharmacist and was on duty on three occasions when a counter assistant made sales of amoxicillin, Diazepam and Viagra. Mr Abdul-Razzak claimed he knew nothing about the unlawful supplies, but was found guilty of misconduct.

On one occasion, Mr Abdul-Razzak had been caught on camera near to where the assistant had been speaking about medication with a BBC reporter. The Fitness to Practise Committee found that Mr Abdul-Razzak must have been aware of the conversation. However, Mr Abdul-Razzak did not take any interest in what the assistant was saying or doing. This was found to be a lack of supervision.

Mr Abdul-Razzak claimed that he should not be considered guilty of misconduct on another occasion, because the counter assistant had deliberately directed him away from the dispensary when the assistant obtained a medicine that was supplied without prescription. The judge said that it was the duty of a RP to supervise the activities of counter assistants. Mr Abdul-Razzak should have intervened and asked what the counter assistant was doing.

Our Recent Market Entry Cases

Our recent market entry cases include:

  • Successful unforeseen benefits application in Surrey
  • Successfully opposing an application offering unforeseen benefits in Bramham, Leeds
  • Successful application for a no significant change relocation in North Yorkshire
  • Successful relocation application in Brackley, Northants
  • Successful unforeseen benefits application at Barking Riverside

Market Entry in the High Court

The High Court has recently considered two market entry cases.

In our last issue, we reported a successful unforeseen benefits application in Warwickshire. Our client owns the only site for a pharmacy in Bidford on Avon. Previously, the Family Health Appeal Unit had granted an application by Rushport Advisory. Rushport applied to the High Court for judicial review of our client’s grant, arguing that the Appeal Unit should not have granted our client’s application because Rushport’s grant had not yet expired. Our client accepted that the Appeal Unit should have taken Rushport’s grant into account, and this meant that the application should be re-determined by the Appeal Unit. Rushport insisted that our client’s application should be turned down.

Mr Justice Kerr did not accept Rushport’s arguments. He agreed with our client that the appeal should be re-determined. The judgment includes some important comments on how NHS England and the Appeal Unit should deal with competing applications.

The High Court has also heard a judicial review relating to a relocation case. A ruling on the meaning of “patient groups” is awaited at the time of printing.