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Home  »   Latest News   »   PDA refer NHS England to Information Commissioner over failure to share data on community pharmacy closures

PDA refer NHS England to Information Commissioner over failure to share data on community pharmacy closures

NHS England and Improvement has not been forthcoming with information requested under Freedom of Information (FOI) laws about Community Pharmacy closures, resulting in the PDA asking the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to investigate.

Tue 16th August 2022 The PDA

The PDA has undertaken significant activity to challenge unnecessary full or part-day pharmacy closures across the UK. The PDA believe that not only does the practice represent significant risk for patient harm, but it damages the reputation of pharmacy, undermines the chances of higher priority funding from governments, and discourages new entrants to the profession/existing practitioners from choosing to work in the sector.

As part of campaigning work undertaken by the PDA, data is requested from the NHS under the powers within the Freedom of Information Act about a range of issues including reported pharmacy closures.  In Scotland this has been received from each of the NHS Health Boards and observers may have seen that this has enabled the PDA to identify appropriate information about the situation there.

Read a key finding from analysis of the data from Scotland here (CCA members fifteen times more likely to close).

This level of information can only be identified by having the official data, and when one Health Board initially refused to release the information an appeal by the PDA to the Scottish Data Commissioner resulted in an instruction to the Health Board that they must make a full disclosure as requested.  Similarly, the PDA asks NHS England to share their data of reported closures as a matter of public interest.

Across the UK, it is the NHS which funds the community pharmacy contracts and as it is a requirement of the NHS terms of service for community pharmacies to report each time that closures occur. Therefore many may have the reasonable expectation that the NHS would be monitoring this critical data already, as a key indicator of how their contract was being delivered.

With the PDA’s ongoing campaigns to protect patients by ending unnecessary closures, and to champion communities’ access to a pharmacist as part of the Safer Pharmacies Charter, one might expect NHS England would be monitoring this issue even more closely.

However, despite multiple requests, NHS England has failed to provide the data, and therefore the PDA has been unable to carry out detailed analysis of this concerning situation to the level which has been possible for Scotland. As is appropriate when a public body fails to adequately respond to a Freedom of Information request, the PDA has escalated the matter to the Information Commissioner to investigate.

The PDA still hope that NHSE will provide the data as soon as possible, hopefully before the ICO has to investigate, however if that fails to happen it will be for the ICO to determine what happens next.

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The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

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