UK: Pharmacy Brief - June 2012

Last Updated: 12 June 2012
Article by David Reissner

Manchester Event

The CR Pharmacy Team will be taking to the stage again on 5 July 2012 at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. We will cover topics based on feedback from those of you who attended last year's conference:

  • Recent regulatory issues including exports and specials
  • Arrangements with GPs
  • Trends in pharmacy transactions
  • Market entry and market exit from 2012

The conference is free, subject to availability. To reserve a place, contact events@charlesrussell.co.uk.

Into the FoIA

We have seen an increase in the use of requests under the Freedom of Information Act to secure a commercial advantage. In appropriate cases, we have used them ourselves on behalf of clients. One PCT recently received a request for details of the number of prescription items dispensed by each pharmacy in its area for the last 24 months. We made detailed representations on behalf of a client as to why the information should not be supplied. The PCT declined to give the information.

PCT Demands that Pharmacy Stops Providing Services

Our client successfully applied for a NHS contract in his own name. Before opening, he formed a company which he registered with the GPhC as the owner of the pharmacy. When the PCT found out, it said that because the pharmacy was being operated by a company which was not on its pharmaceutical list, it was not entitled to provide, or be paid for, NHS pharmaceutical services. The PCT also referred the pharmacist to its performance panel, and said it was considering reporting the pharmacist to the GPhC. We managed to resolve these issues for the pharmacist; the pharmacy continues to trade, and the PCT has confirmed it will not take any further action. However, this pharmacist's experience reinforces the importance of getting specialist legal advice from the outset; because, if you get it wrong, you could lose your business.

Wales - Control of Entry

Wales did not follow suit when England made control of entry changes in 2005, so avoided the 100- hour debacle. The Welsh Assembly Government is now consulting on changes to its current regime, because it considers most applications are a waste of time and money.

The Assembly is now considering these proposals:

  • Future applications will depend on local PNAs
  • Repeat applications will be not be considered after a refusal
  • Fees will be introduced to discourage speculative applications
  • After preliminary consent has been granted, full applications will have to be submitted within a shorter time than at present
  • After a full application is granted, services must be provided within a shorter period
  • Minor relocations will be simplified but possibly with safeguards to prevent leapfrogging

Modernising Pharmacy Regulation

The GPhC's consultation on modernising pharmacy regulation ended on 7 May 2012. Here are some highlights:

  • Unlike its predecessor, the GPhC does not propose to lay down detailed standards.
  • The GPhC will no longer register premises that do not supply POMs or sell P medicines. This will have implications for some businesses operating a hub and spoke model
  • When pharmacies apply for registration, the GPhC may impose conditions, including a date by which the provision of services must commence
  • Where distance selling pharmacies are operated, a condition may be imposed that patients and the public are not permitted to visit
  • The GPhC expects registrants "to be familiar with all associated guidance", including its own.
  • On the upside, the GPhC will not regard legal enforcement as its first option to secure compliance. The downside is that compliance decisions will be made public
  • Separate guidance may be issued for internet pharmacies and for pharmacies relying on exemptions from the need for MHRA licences
  • As we announced in a previous issue of the Pharmacy Brief pharmacies will no longer be subject to a 3-year cycle of inspections

Out of Touch?

A GPhC Fitness to Practise Committee ruled that "a pharmacist is not competent to undertake a physical examination which includes the touching of a patient's body as part of a diagnostic procedure". Is that correct?

The answer is that it depends. For example, if a patient asks for advice about an itching eye, the pharmacist may need to touch the patient's face in the course of taking a closer look. For further details, ask us for a copy of David Reissner's Chemist & Druggist article on touching patients.

Want to Stay?

We were recently approached by the owner of a pharmacy in a health centre who wanted advice on the renewal of his expiring lease. The GPs are the landlords, and they said they would not grant a new lease to him. The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 allows landlords to refuse to grant a new tenancy if landlords want to redevelop or to use the premises for their own business. When advising pharmacists who take a lease within health centres we recommend insisting on a right to renew the lease.

Need to Get Out?

A pharmacist's decision to move or practise from a health centre is often based on the number of prescriptions the GPs are likely to generate. If the GPs are no longer at the health centre, or the number of GPs falls, this could have a significant impact on the amount of business done by the pharmacy. When negotiating a new lease of a pharmacy in a health centre, pharmacists should think about including a break right in the lease, allowing them to terminate if circumstances at the health centre change.

It's a Deal

We are seeing more pharmacies coming onto the market than in 2011. This bears out feedback from delegates at our London Pharmacy Conferences in March this year. Recently completed transactions handled by Tim Jenkins and the Pharmacy Transactions Team include:-

  • Acting for Kevin Knightly and Cyril Howells on the sale of a Suffolk based pharmacy to Donald G Hayden (Chemists) Limited and associated property arrangements
  • Acting for Wricklemarsh Limited on its purchase of London based Jennings Chemist from Jennings (Chemist) Limited and associated property arrangements (sale brokered by Goldin Medical)
  • Acting for WM Brown (Kingshurst) Limited and Springpharm Limited in connection with their purchase from Boots UK Limited of shares in HHCC Limited (operator of a consortium pharmacy in Hinckley Health Centre - Leicestershire)
  • Acting for Deen & Co Limited on its purchase of Manchester based pharmacy operator D Machell (Wholesale) Limited
  • Acting for Julian and Jane Langer on the sale of London based pharmacy operator L & M Langer Limited to Meraj Limited and associated property arrangements (sale brokered by Hutchings Consultants)

Our understanding of pharmacy businesses enables us to offer a competitively priced, added value, full service for clients both large and small and whether buying or selling.

We can also offer a one-stop service by bringing in valuation and other expertise – for further details click here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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