Pharmacy Voice, an advocacy body that has represented independent and multiple pharmacy owners for more than six years, will be disbanded during the summer of 2017.
Its offices will close at the end of April 2017 and, subject to legal requirements, the organisation will be formally wound up over the summer.
The closure had to occur after the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) announced in December 2016 that it was leaving Pharmacy Voice at the end of 2017.
Under Pharmacy Voice’s governing rules, it cannot continue without its three founding members — the NPA, which represents independent pharmacy owners; the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIM), which represents smaller pharmacy chains such as the Cohens Chemist Group; and the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), which represents larger chains such as Boots and Well. The organisation launched in December 2010 to speak as one voice for the community pharmacy sector.
The disbandment comes at a crucial time for the sector as pharmacy organisations challenge the government’s budget cuts in England through a judicial review began in London’s High Court on 21 March 2017.
The future of Pharmacy Voice’s five full-time and two part-time staff is still being discussed, but it is expected that some of them will be made redundant.
Rob Darracott, chief executive of Pharmacy Voice, said in a statement on 21 March 2017: “We can’t continue without the three organisations because that is how we were set up.”
He added: “Very often the people we were trying to influence, particularly the politicians, said that there were so many different pharmacy organisations it was difficult to know who they should be listening to. I think there was genuine recognition that what we were trying to do was to bring three partners together to speak with one voice.”
A spokesperson for the CCA says it was disappointed at the closure of Pharmacy Voice at a time when “there is still considerable work to be done”, especially on the reforms outlined in the ‘Community pharmacy forward view’.
Margaret MacRury, chair of the CCA, says: “The CCA is committed to the shared values of collaboration and respect which we demonstrated within Pharmacy Voice. We will continue to support the transformation of pharmaceutical service provision across the country as a forward thinking, dynamic partner.”
In a statement, the NPA paid tribute to Pharmacy Voice staff and said that the NPA “recognises the need to fulfil outstanding projects and intends to embed a positive legacy from Pharmacy Voice”.
It said that the NPA will continue to work with partners across the sector wherever possible but that it would “not shy away from articulating the particular needs and aspirations of the independent sector including independent multiples”.
The NPA, AIM and CCA still intend to join forces on key sector-wide issues, such as patient safety.
The medication safety officer group and workforce development will in future be managed by the CCA, while IT will be taken on by the NPA.