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Charity seeks judicial review over HIV drug provision decision

The National AIDS Trust has confirmed it will seek a judicial review of the decision by NHS England to stop funding HIV prevention drug PrEP, and is crowdfunding among supporters to raise money.

NHS England confirmed on 1 June that it will not continue funding the drug on the grounds that it should be the responsibility of local authorities.

However, the decision is opposed by councils as well as AIDs charities, with the LGA warning that it will put further pressure on their resources.

NAT has now launched a crowdfunder on Virgin Money to raise money for the legal challenge, saying that as “a small charity” it will not be able to cover the legal costs otherwise. With Gift Aid, the crowdfunder has raised £3,899.75 of a £10,000 target.

The NAT judicial review application is likely to use similar arguments to the first legal challenge, launched on 21 March, which forced NHS England to carry out a review of the decision.

That review said the decision was unlawful because the NHS had misunderstood its powers under the National Health Service Act 2006 by saying it is not responsible for HIV prevention and failed to conduct the decision with due transparency and regard for equality.

In a blog post, NAT said: “The duty of the government and NHS England is clear – to identify the appropriate commissioning body for PrEP and allow that body to assess the conclusions of the working group (seeking only any further information which they consider is still needed). 

“The commissioner should then move as soon as possible to commission PrEP comprehensively, cost-effectively and fairly to those at significant risk of HIV.”

An NHS England spokesperson said that as set out in the Local Authorities (Public Health Functions and Entry to Premises by Local Healthwatch Representatives) Regulations 2013, “local authorities are the responsible commissioner for HIV prevention services”.

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