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Pharmacy2U 'mega facility' refused inclusion on pharmaceutical list by NHS litigation arm

LloydsPharmacy appealed against NHS England’s approval of Pharmacy2U’s Leicester facility on the grounds that NHS England “applied the wrong test” to the application.

Pharmacy2U website

Source: Pharmacy2U

If Pharmacy2U’s two sites were fully operational they would give the company the capacity to dispense 7.5 million items per month

Pharmacy2U’s application to include its Leicester ‘mega facility’ on the pharmaceutical list has been refused by the NHS’s litigation arm.

In a decision document dated 21 January 2020, NHS Resolution said its Pharmacy Appeals Committee “quashes” an earlier NHS England decision to approve the facility and has “determined that the application should be refused”.

Pharmacy2U’s facility in Leicester was set to open in 2021 with a capacity of 6 million items per year — six times that of its current facility in Leeds.

The two sites were expected to give Pharmacy2U the capacity to dispense 7.5 million items per month.

Pharmacy2U requested approval from NHS England on 5 October 2018 for the Leicester facility to be included on the pharmaceutical list — a requirement for opening any new pharmacy in England.

The approval was granted on 22 August 2019, with NHS England stating at the time there was “no reason to decline the application”.

However, on 19 September 2019, this decision was appealed by LloydsPharmacy on the grounds that NHS England “applied the wrong test to this application”.

NHS Resolution’s decision document, dated 21 January 2020, citing Lloyds appeal, said: “Instead of considering if [Pharmacy2U] met all parts of the legal test and providing reasons for their decision, NHS England has instead reversed the legal test and found no reasons for refusal”.

“There is no information to show how the applicant would meet any part of the legal test and, therefore, it is not lawful for NHS England to have approved the application,” the document continued.

In the decision document, NHS Resolution said it reassessed the evidence presented with Pharmacy2U’s initial application and found that it was “not satisfied that all essential services were likely to be secured in a safe and effective manner”.

It added that it was “not satisfied that all essential services were likely to be secured without interruption during the opening hours” or that “all essential services were likely to be secured for persons anywhere in England”.

Under The National Health Service (Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2013, distance selling pharmacies must offer “uninterrupted provision of essential services, during the opening hours of the premises, to persons anywhere in England who request those services”. 

Essential services, including dispensing medicines and appliances and clinical governance, are to be offered by all pharmacies as part of the community pharmacy contractual framework.

The decision also cast doubt over whether the essential services could be secured without face-to-face contact.

In a statement issued to The Pharmaceutical Journal, a spokesperson for Pharmacy2U said: “Our current facility in Leeds dispenses over 600,000 medicines to patients each month with industry-leading clinical accuracy, helping to improve patient access to healthcare and reduce the strain on the NHS”.

“Our new dispensing facility in Leicester will enable us to dispense more than 6 million medicines per month, further freeing up pharmacists to help patients with frontline healthcare, as advised in the new NHS marketing campaign.

“We had our license for the new facility approved previously by NHS England, so we are disappointed that it has been held up on appeal — though we maintain a very strong relationship with the NHS and will work together to ensure all feedback is answered and changes are made to our application, which will benefit the NHS and patients alike.”

The Pharmaceutical Journal has approached NHS England for comment.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20207666

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