The chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has spoken out about her decision to resign at the end of the year.
Sue Sharpe announced she would leave her position, which she has held since 2001, at the May 2017 meeting of the PSNC.
Speaking after the meeting, she said: “When I decided to inform PSNC of my decision to resign at the end of the year I was confident that by now we would have learnt the outcome of the judicial review, but we are still waiting.”
The PSNC, the official negotiating body for community pharmacy in England alongside the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), is seeking judicial review of the government’s decision to cut the community pharmacy budget in England.
The PSNC is challenging the government on the grounds that it did not go through the proper process before deciding to cut the community pharmacy budget by £170m for 2016–2017.
Sharpe added: “The last 18 months have been very tough for the sector and for PSNC, and the challenges are not going away. Whatever the outcome of the case, we will need to continue to fight to ensure that pharmacies’ support for patients and their role in our communities is protected and developed.
“That remains PSNC’s priority and we are preparing the next stages in our campaign. All of my brilliant team are working and will continue to work to ensure the organisation does the very best for the contractors we represent.”
Sharpe joined the PSNC as the chief executive in 2001 at a time when the organisation was undergoing restructure to reflect a rapidly changing NHS.
When appointed, she said her greatest challenge was to inspire community pharmacists to feel positive and enthused about the sector and to work with local pharmaceutical committees to help them make the best of local negotiations. In recent times, with the introduction of cuts to community pharmacy, the collective morale among community pharmacists has been brought to a new low, bringing huge challenges to the organisation and the sector.
Over the last 16 years, Sharpe has overseen the introduction of the 2005 community pharmacy contractual framework and the first national advanced services for community pharmacies in the form of medicines use reviews and the new medicine service.
After qualifying as a barrister, Sharpe started her career as an academic before becoming a government lawyer. She worked initially as an adviser to the attorney general where she was involved in reform of the legal profession. In 1991, she joined the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, where she headed its regulatory and legal functions.
In 1992, she married David Sharpe, then chair of the PSNC and treasurer of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.
Source: National Pharmacy Association
Ian Strachan, chair of the NPA, the trade association for independent community pharmacies in the UK, issued a statement following Sharpe’s announcement on 9 May 2017, acknowledging her contribution to community pharmacy since 2001.
“We are indebted to Sue Sharpe for her years of tireless service in this sector, during which time she has been a passionate advocate for community pharmacy and all that it stands for,” he says.
“In all the long years of her service, she has never lost sight of the fundamental truths of our sector – including the fact that the safe supply of medicines remains the core role of community pharmacy and should never be split apart from pharmaceutical services.
“She is an exceptionally capable leader who will be sorely missed.”
Sharpe did not comment on her future plans.
Mike Pitt, chair of the PSNC, comments: “It has been a pleasure to work with Sue and the team at PSNC since I was appointed as chair two years ago. Sue has been an exceptional advocate for community pharmacy, working tirelessly to promote the sector on behalf of PSNC and all the contractors it represents. She will be a very hard act to follow.
“The PSNC has already begun to consider the recruitment process for a replacement [chief executive], but it will of course take time to ensure that we appoint the right person.”
- This story was amended on 16 May 2017 to add a comment from Mike Pitt, chair of the PSNC