Our client wanted to relocate his pharmacy and had two potential locations in mind. They were unsure whether they would be able to secure permission to relocate to either one of the two possible locations and wanted our advice to help them decide. Normally a pharmacy contractor will submit one relocation application and wait for the outcome of that application, but in this case we advised that it was sensible to submit two applications at the same time, each for different premises, as we felt that either application should be approved.
NHS England refused both applications and we appealed these decisions on behalf of our client. The appeals were considered by way of an oral hearing and the oral hearing panel agreed with us that the pharmacy could relocate to either of their proposed locations. These appeals were of note as the relocations were over 1 mile from the pharmacy's current location, but the oral hearing panel accepted that despite the distance, the facts of the case meant that no patient group would find either of the proposed locations significantly less accessible. It was important for the oral hearing panel to have evidence that they could rely upon to support their decision making and we were able to bring a number of witnesses to the oral hearing who spoke in favour of the application and explained more about the local area and the impact of the proposed pharmacy move on patients.
One of the proposed locations was to a medical centre and the other was to a retail parade. Our client is now in the process of securing premises at the medical centre site with the full support of the local doctors.
As a general rule, relocations of 1 mile are difficult to get approval for, but this case shows that it is the local circumstances that matter more than the distance involved. In the same month that the Appeal Unit allowed our clients relocations, they refused another relocation of a slightly shorter distance as they had not been provided with sufficient evidence to support that case.