Is it within the remit of the NHS to commission and pay for preventative HIV drugs?

Surely the letters NHS are the initials for National Health Service. National means nationwide – belonging to the country. Whichever way the bureaucrats wriggle, they cannot wriggle out of that. The current government, like its predecessors, needs to grasp the metal, take courage set about reforming and repairing a system that is no longer fir for purpose. Delivering it into the hands of privateers is not going to solve any problems, but it will disenfranchise many of the less well off. Shame on all who would deliver a once magnificent service into the hands of profiteers and charlatans.

UK Human Rights Blog

National Aids Trust v National Health Service Commissioning Board (NHS England)  [2016] EWHC 2005 (Admin) (Local Government Association intervening)


In this case NHS England argued it lacked the power to commission (and be responsible for paying for) preventative HIV drugs. It said this was solely the responsibility of local authorities and, in so doing, disavowed any responsibility for preventative medicine.

The High Court rejected this. It undertook a purposive interpretation of the legislation and found that NHS England had broad and wide-ranging powers of commissioning, and could commission preventative HIV drugs. NHS England is appealing.

The interest in this case extends beyond Mr Justice Green’s interpretation of the particular provisions. The judge was ready to find that the provisions were to be interpreted purposively, and was then very ready to look to the overall objectives and duties of the NHS as expressed in other parts of the relevant…

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