Judge rules in favour of community pharmacies

LOCAL pharmacies have been handed a lifeline after a High Court judge ruled that proper consultation was not carried out before £38m in budget cuts were implemented.

Pharmacies across the borough feared they would be forced to close after the Department of Health slashed the community pharmacy budget by up to 30 per cent.

In a bid to reverse the cuts, Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI) - which represents more than 500 chemists - launched a judicial review against the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Treacy held that health chiefs did not carry out proper consultation before imposing the cutbacks - namely the way that remuneration and reimbursement arrangements were put in place by the DHSSPS in April 2011.

Local politicians have welcomed the ruling, with East Antrim Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson now calling on Health Minister Edwin Poots to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

“It is great news that the court has ruled that the Health Department did not carry out a proper consultation exercise into the level of cuts that they imposed on community pharmacies,” he said.

“I would urge the Minister to start talks with CPNI to ensure that a fair and reasonable level of funding is provided to such an important front line service. I hope that an agreement can be reached quickly before any community pharmacy goes out of business.”

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