Rushport has acted for a number of owners of 100 hour pharmacy contracts who wish to purchase a standard hours / 40 hour pharmacy which is close by and try to relocate the 40 hour contract to the same site as their 100 hour contract in order to be able to reduce their opening hours. This can be a very sensible thing to do for pharmacies that are doing very little dispensing outside normal hours and the operational cost savings for the pharmacy are normally in excess of £100,000 per annum.

Many contractors who have tried to do this have had their applications refused by PCTs / NHS England or the NHS Litigation Authority as they have been unable to satisfy the decision makers that their move met the criteria for a relocation. One of the key issues that we have had to deal with is what was previously referred to as Regulation 17A under the 2005 Pharmacy Regulations and Regulation 31 Under the 2013 Regulations. Under these regulations applications had to be refused if the relocation was to the same site as an existing NHS pharmacy.

We have now acted for a number of clients who have found themselves in this position. Unfortunately many pharmacy contractors only contact us after their initial application has been refused, but in every case where we have been instructed we have been able to satisfy the NHS Litigation Authority that our clients' applications did meet the criteria and should be approved.

It is interesting to note that the new 2013 Pharmacy Regulations are worded quite differently from the previous 2005 Pharmacy Regulations and we see a different approach being taken by the NHSLA which means that applications under the 2013 Regulations may succeed, even where the same applicant had already been refused under the 2005 Regulations.

Anyone considering this type of application should not just rely on previous similar decisions and think that their application will be approved. We say this because the DoH has amended the Regulations from 1 April 2014 to clarify when Regulation 31 applies. If you are considering this type of application then it is very important to get professional help at an early stage.

Conor Daly, Partner at Rushport

"This is an area where it is very important for pharmacy contractors to provide the correct information to NHS England and the NHS Litigation Authority in order to ensure that there is no confusion. The NHS Litigation Authority is not required to seek out additional information that might prove an applicant's case and it is amazing how many applicants simply do not provide either the right amount, or type, of information when they are involved in potential transactions worth hundreds of thousands of pounds."