The National Pharmacy Association (NPA), the trade association for independent community pharmacy in the UK, has decided it will no longer continue to be part of the umbrella trade body Pharmacy Voice “beyond 2017”.
The NPA announced on 13 December 2016 that it will stop funding Pharmacy Voice beyond the end of 2017, the end of the current three-year agreement between the founding associations.
Pharmacy Voice will be left with two trade bodies as members: the Company Chemists’ Association, which represents big pharmacy chains such as Boots and Lloydspharmacy, and the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, which represents smaller pharmacy chains.
In a statement, the NPA said that the community pharmacy sector in England is entering a “crucial phase of its development, and pharmacy’s leadership structures must be fit for purpose in the time ahead”.
Ian Strachan, chair of the NPA, says the decision to leave Pharmacy Voice comes in response to a call from the NPA board to take steps to “increase the capability of community pharmacy leadership in England”.
“The board has asked me to have in mind the following broad outcomes: a simpler structure for community pharmacy representation that everyone inside and outside the sector can understand; [and] the alignment of policy development and strategy within the sector with formal negotiation of the contractual framework,” he says.
“This is to give us the best chance of achieving positive transformation in the sector — as a compelling alternative to the damaging approach being taken by the Department of Health and NHS England.”
The NPA, which has launched a judicial review into the government’s pharmacy cuts, says the independent sector must be able to make its own voice heard distinctively and powerfully.
Rob Darracott, chief executive of Pharmacy Voice, says he is “disappointed” with the NPA’s decision, but says Pharmacy Voice’s “small” team has an important work programme planned for 2017 that will help get “community pharmacy back on the front foot, and demonstrate the sector’s continued commitment to innovation and partnership”.
He says: “The announcement of funding cuts 12 months ago presented community pharmacy with a challenge which forced us all to think and do things differently… One of the many things we will seek to deliver over the next 12 months is to turn the vision of the Community Pharmacy Forward View into a reality.”
Responding to the announcement, Sandra Gidley, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) English Pharmacy Board, says: “We will continue to work closely with Pharmacy Voice, the NPA, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) and all other bodies in pharmacy, as we do now, to make sure there is a joined-up voice for community pharmacy.
“The RPS remains focused on providing leadership for the whole profession, across Great Britain, advocating for improved patient care through better use of pharmacists,” she adds.
Sue Sharpe, chief executive of the PSNC, which represents pharmacy contractors, says: “The community pharmacy sector has been facing unprecedented challenges in the last year and it is understandable that the community pharmacy organisations will look at whether they should make changes so they can represent their members’ interests as well as possible in the future.”
She adds that the PSNC is also in the process of reviewing its own structures.
“We will continue to work as closely as possible with the NPA and the whole sector.”