August 9, 2017
  • Rushport Advisory

Successfully opposing distance selling applications

Most pharmacy contractors know about the work we do to secure distance selling or “internet pharmacy” applications for our clients. In fact there are some interesting statistics to consider. If you look at the number of applications that were either granted or refused at appeal in 2016 you will see that Rushport’s success rate where we acted for clients from the start of the process was 100% and that dropped to a 96% success rate when you include applications where we were only instructed at appeal stage. If you then consider applications where the applicant was represented by other consulting firms, solicitors or just did it themselves the success rate is only 19%. For 2017 the statistics are even more stark. Rushport’s success rate is 100% and every other application where the applicant used one of our competitors or did it themselves has been refused at appeal.

Unless there is an appeal you can’t really assess the quality of the submissions. We have had dozens of applications granted at NHS England stage without any appeals and we don’t post comments about them for that reason.

Sometimes we are asked for advice from clients who want to object to the opening of a distance selling pharmacy. Because of our experience in this area we know what to look for in applications and it often becomes obvious that applicant has not provided sufficient information to meet the requirements of Regulation 25 and the Terms of Service. It is surprising to see how many pharmacy contractors don’t bother submitting appeals against decisions of NHS England even though NHS Resolution will re-examine every part of an application at the appeal stage and often overturns NHS England decisions. Just because you can’t see anything wrong with an application does not mean it is perfect. Pharmacists are not trained to understand Regulations, nor do many of them ever write a Standard Operating Procedure, so you can’t expect to be able to do everything by yourself.

We were recently instructed by a client whom we had previously acted for to secure a number of distance selling contracts. He was concerned that another contractor was seeking to open up a distance selling pharmacy nearby and he did not believe that they really understood how they were supposed to operate. We made representations on our client’s behalf highlighting a number of deficiencies in the applicant’s procedures and NHS Resolution accepted that the procedures were not robust enough and refused the application at appeal.

If you receive an application for a distance selling pharmacy then don’t just accept that these types of applications are always approved. As the statistics above show, they are often refused at appeal and it is worthwhile making sure that the applicant really understands what their obligations are. If you want some free, no obligation advice just send us a copy of any application you receive to and we will be happy to let you know our genuine opinion on whether it is worth spending the time and money required to successfully oppose it.