2017 Pharmacy Law Conference – Save the Date Our annual pharmacy conference will take place at a new London venue – The Wellcome Collection on 23 March 2017. Early in the New Year, we will send out invitations and details of the programme. After the conference, you will have an opportunity to visit the renowned Wellcome Museum.
Pharmacy Access Scheme
The clock is ticking for getting on to the Government's Pharmacy Access Scheme (PhAS).
To protect pharmacies which are a long way from other pharmacies from closure as a result of the remuneration cuts, the DH is introducing the PhAS payment. The payment is essentially equivalent to the establishment payment, so it is intended to restore funding for some pharmacies to pre-cut levels.
Pharmacies which are a mile or more from existing pharmacies (by a practicable route) are automatically entitled to the payment (provided they dispense fewer than approximately 105,000 items per year).
However, pharmacies which are between 0.8 miles and 1 mile from a pharmacy may also be eligible for the payment if certain conditions are met.
There is a mechanism for asking NHS England to review eligibility to the PhAS payment. We are dealing with a large number of applications and are acting on fixed fees, including a discount for multiple applications.
We have seen a number of cases in which CCGs have complained about the cost of NP8 items, claiming that they could have been sourced more cheaply than the sum paid by pharmacies. It is not unusual for CCGs to demand repayment from pharmacies of the difference between the price paid by pharmacy and the lower price the CCG things should have been paid. There are, of course, a number of factors involved when NP8 products are sourced, and CCGs do not always understand the supply issues at play. In any event, CCGs do not have legal power to demand payment from pharmacies, and any attempt to do so should be resisted.
For the future, the Government has announced its intention to change the Drug Tariff in relation to NP8 products, so pharmacy owners should take care to avoid being caught out.
It is not just CCGs who struggle to understand the implications of the Drug Tariff. The GPhC recently alleged a client of ours was guilty of misconduct because he had bought Specials at what was claimed to be an excessive price. After we submitted representations on behalf of our client, the GPhC withdrew the allegation.
Our Recent Market Entry Cases
Our most recent market entry cases include:
- Successful application for a new contract offering unforeseen benefits for premises in Gloucestershire
- Successfully opposing a new contract application in London offering to meet a current need identified in the PNA.
- For our Guide to Market Entry, click here.
- For our Fitness to Practise Guide, click here.
- For Pharmacy Business: A Guide for Buyers and Sellers, click here.
Information Governance Breach Notices
We are dealing with a number of cases in which NHS England is trying to claw back large sums of money from pharmacies that allegedly failed to comply with information governance requirements. For advice, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
English Language Skills
Pharmacy professionals must now provide evidence that their knowledge of the English language enables them to practise safely and effectively. Failure to comply may result in fitness to practise proceedings. For a free copy of Andrew Sweetman's Pharmacy Business article click here.
Buying or Selling Dental Practices
Many of our clients have family members who are dentists. In addition to our expertise in the community pharmacy sector, we also have a specialist team handling the sale and purchase of dental practices.
The Government has tried to justify its decision to cut funding for community pharmacy partly on the basis that many pharmacies are in clusters and that these could be encouraged to merge.
Leaving aside the Government's questionable logic, we can advise pharmacies contemplating a merger on
- Joint venture agreements including voting rights, exit terms and the allocation of shares in the remaining pharmacy
- Models for sharing overheads
- Business transfers
- TUPE and employment right
- Changes to staff terms and rates of pay
Laying off Staff?
The Government's Impact Assessment which has been produced to underpin the decision to slash funding says that the Government expects pharmacists and other pharmacy staff will lose their jobs as a result of the cuts. It is not clear whether the Government appreciates that pharmacies are legally required to have a pharmacist. There may be plenty of reasons to make job losses a last resort, but if it is unavoidable, care needs to be taken to comply with employment law. We can advise on redundancy consultations and procedures.
It's a Deal
It has been a busy period for pharmacy sales and purchases by clients of all shapes and sizes. We have a high volume of transactions in progress for completion in early 2017. Transactions recently concluded include:-
- Purchase of Garners Pharmacy Limited for Day Lewis plc (brokered by Christie & Co)
- Sale of Buntingford Healthcare Ltd for Mr & Mrs K Shah (brokered by Hutchings Consultants).