WELCOME TO CHARLES RUSSELL SPEECHLYS.
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Over 270 people signed up for our annual pharmacy law conferences in London and Manchester. It was the first time we had run the conferences with a live Twitter feed #CRpharmaConf, which proved popular, to collect comments and questions during the sessions.
Dispensing errors may be decriminalised in the foreseeable future but, following the Francis Report, a new offence will be introduced, governing the conduct of all healthcare professionals. This will involve wilful neglect or reckless mistreatment.
It won't be necessary to show that a patient has been injured, unlike the existing offence, and the penalties for convicted pharmacists or pharmacy owners will be much higher than now.
In an interactive session at our Pharmacy Conferences, Tim Jenkins, Rachel Warren and Claire Timmings told guests how we had been called on to help a client who had exchanged contracts on an acquisition handled by other lawyers, only to find that NHS England was taking steps to cancel the pharmacy's NHS contract because of the seller's misdeeds.
The NHS market entry regulations were amended in April. Amongst other things, the rules for unforeseen benefits applications were clarified.
The Department of Health's explanation was that it wanted to encourage more applications. This seems at odds with the pronouncement of the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer earlier this year that there are too many pharmacies.
The MHRA is reminding herbal companies and retailers that, as of 1st May 2014, unlicensed manufactured herbal medicines without a traditional herbal registration (THR) or product licence (PL) could no longer be sold to consumers and must be removed from shelves.
The Law Commission has produced a lengthy report on reforming fitness to practise procedures of all healthcare professions. Amongst its recommendations, it proposes that regulators should be required to refer allegations for preliminary consideration.
This may result in sensible screening of trivial complaints, rather than the current system under which pharmacists may have to respond to questions from the GPhC's solicitors and then wait for up to a year before they are told that no further action will be taken.
Another useful reform would involve giving the GPhC power to cancel referrals to the Fitness to Practise Committee. We are aware of a number of cases in which the GPhC decided there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a disciplinary case, but the Investigating Committee nevertheless refused to cancel the referral, leaving the pharmacist to face the full panoply of a fitness to practise hearing.
Statistic on the website of the NHS Litigation Authority reflect the significant drop in contract applications when market entry changes were introduced in 2012. In the 12 month period to 31 March 2014, only 252 appeals were received, compared to 472 in the preceding year.
Very few applications under the new Regulations had been completed at the year end, so it is too soon to analyse the success rate of appeals. The vast majority of appeals decided on the papers were completed within 15 weeks. On average, when an oral hearing was held, a decision was given within 24 weeks.
Incidentally, the NHS Litigation Authority is currently advertising on its website for new panel chairs.
Our Pharmacy team has seen a busy period for new instructions. Amongst others, have completed transactions for :