PrEP case lawyer explains what it means in terms for the future NHS funding

Published: 14 November 2016 Tags: lgbt, prep, nhs By John Walding

Last week the court of appeal ruled in favour of the NAT (National AIDS Trust) in a judgment that confirming the earlier high court judgment that NHS England can legally fund the HIV prevention drug PrEP.

This decision means that NHS England is obliged to give due consideration to commissioning PrEP. Supporting the initial High Court judgment, this outcome means that NHS England will need to reveal its decision on whether PrEP will be recommended for funding.

NAT were represented by Adam Hundt and Louise Whitfield of Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors and we asked Louise for her reaction to the ruling and its significance for people at high risk of HIV infection.

“It is very significant in that prior to the ruling (and the earlier win in the High Court), NHS England were saying they had no power to commission PrEP and that this should be done by local authorities within their public health remit. However, the local authorities did not in fact have the funding to do so, nor were they as well-placed as NHS England to negotiate at national level and to ensure a joined-up service was provided. The Court of Appeal recognised the risk that could be created by services becoming fragmented and adopted a common sense approach to interpreting the legislation; they held that NHS England did have the power to commission PrEP.

So what does it mean in terms of PrEP funding?

Louise explained:

“It means that PrEP is now back on the table in terms of the particular treatments that they can fund and therefore they must consider doing so. Any decision on whether to fund PrEP must take into account all the evidence about its effectiveness and the long-term benefits in terms of saving costs, before taking a fair and lawful decision about whether to commission it or not. There is no duty on NHS England to fund PrEP but if they decide not to, they will have to explain why not and can no longer simply argue that they do not have the power to do so.”

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