NHS pharmaceutical services can only be provided to the public with the permission of the Health Board (HB). The process for applying for a new pharmacy contract is governed by Pharmaceutical Regulations.
Any pharmacist or company who wants to open a new pharmacy must submit an application to join the HB’s Pharmaceutical List and applications can only be made by certain categories of people (the Medicines Act describes these categories). Potential applicants to the pharmaceutical list approach the HB about opening a pharmacy or relocating an existing pharmacy; the HB does not proactively seek applications.
Before an application can be submitted and processed for consideration, there are two important stages for the potential Applicant and the HB to work through together. These are: the Pre-Application Stage and the Joint Consultation process.
The aim of this stage is to make sure that the potential applicant and the HB engage with each other at the earliest opportunity. The current pharmacy regulations require the potential applicant and HB to meet to discuss the case for the proposed new pharmacy, or certain relocations of existing pharmacies.
There is no pre-judgement of the success or otherwise of the proposed application. The HB representatives involved remain strictly neutral throughout the whole pre-application process. The decision on whether a new pharmacy should be established is taken by a special committee of the HB known as the Pharmacy Practices Committee (PPC).
Before the Pre-application meeting takes place the potential applicant provides information to the HB including the neighbourhood where their proposed premises are located, the intended opening times and the pharmaceutical services they intend to provide. This information allows the discussion to focus on areas which will allow the potential application to make an informed decision on whether to proceed with their proposal. If they do, the potential applicant and HB will meet again to develop a joint public consultation.
Following the end of the consultation period the HB and potential applicant will meet again and to produce a factual consultation analysis report (CAR). The CAR contains details on how the consultation was undertaken, the list of questions asked and responses to them, the number and category of respondents; and the level of support of residents in the proposed neighbourhood.
At this point the potential applicant will decide if they wish to proceed to a formal application. If the potential applicant decides not to go ahead with the application, the process will end and notification to this effect will be posted on the HB’s website.
If the potential applicant chooses to proceed, the CAR is included in the papers provided to the PPC when they meet to consider the application. The PPC will take into account the information contained within the CAR and demonstrate this within its decision making.
This is why it is important that people respond to a consultation within the advertised time period as it is vital that potential users of, or those who may be affected by the possible service, submit their views (positive or negative) regarding any proposals in response to the public consultation questionnaire.
When the applicant submits their formal application, the HB checks it to make sure it complies with the requirements of the regulations.
The application is then subject to a second consultation process which includes the views of the existing pharmacy contractors in the area, the area medical committee, area pharmaceutical committee, and the nominated community representative.
Notice is also given to any neighbouring HB whose boundary is within two kilometres of the proposed premises. This consultation lasts for 30 days.
The Pharmacy Practices Committee (PPC)
After this consultation, the application is considered by the PPC which decides if an application is successful or not. The PPC is made up of seven members:
The PPC normally hold an oral hearing to consider the application. The applicant attends this hearing along with anyone consulted during the second consultation exercise and who wrote to the HB about the application.
The PPC applies the statutory test to decide whether granting the application would be “necessary or desirable in order to secure adequate provision of pharmaceutical services in the neighbourhood in which the premises are located by persons whose names are included in the pharmaceutical list”.
In order to apply this test the PPC will give consideration to a range of factors including (but not restricted to):
Consideration of the factors outlined above will allow the PPC to determine:
There are no set criteria to define each factor. It is the role of the PPC as an expert panel to base its decision on the information available to it as well as presented during the hearing.
Once a decision is reached it is notified in accordance with the regulations and the minute of the hearing published on the HB’s public website, which is available on this web page via the links on the left of this page organised by year.
Whilst the decision of the PPC can be appealed the persons who can appeal are limited to the applicant and those parties consulted and who responded during the second consultation exercise.
If you participate in the public consultation exercise your response will be included in the CAR, which is shared with all parties in the application process. You will be given the opportunity to specify the level of personal information disclosed and shared. See Current Consultations for questionnaire links.
If you want further information on the processes involved please contact: 01387 244284.