The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has given notice that it will not continue to fund Pharmacy Voice beyond the end of 2017, the association’s chairman Ian Strachan has announced today (December 13).
Explaining the decision, Mr Strachan said: “Recognising the challenges ahead for the whole sector, and especially independents, the NPA board has asked me to take steps to increase the capability of community pharmacy leadership in England.”
The NPA has made this decision, which comes at the end of the current three-year agreement between Pharmacy Voice’s founding associations, in order to develop a simpler structure for community pharmacy representation, give independent community pharmacy a strong and distinctive voice and to embed a positive legacy from Pharmacy Voice activity, said Mr Strachan.
Insisting that pharmacy’s leadership structures must be fit for purpose at this crucial time for community pharmacy, Mr Strachan added: “The mission is to move community pharmacy to a position where it is secure, thriving and fulfilling its potential – against the backdrop of current government policy which threatens the opposite. This involves defining and describing what a sustainable, long term future looks like, persuading government and NHS to back the changes needed – including sustained public investment – and supporting pharmacies to meet the challenge of continuing improvement and consistent delivery of excellent care. The structure of pharmacy leadership must be capable of delivering all this”.
Responding to the announcement, Pharmacy Voice chief executive, Rob Darracott, said: “Naturally, I am disappointed at the decision by one of our member associations to give their notice to withdraw from Pharmacy Voice at the end of 2017.”
Mr Darracott has made assurances that Pharmacy Voice’s work will continue: “Over the next year, Pharmacy Voice’s small but unique team of policy, public affairs, communications, and governance professionals will continue to work, as we have always done, on behalf of the whole of the community pharmacy sector in England to promote the value of the network and support the role frontline pharmacy teams play within an integrated health and care system. We have an exciting and important programme of work planned for 2017, which will help get community pharmacy back on the front foot, and demonstrate the sector’s continued commitment to innovation and partnership.”
In particular, Pharmacy Voice will see to turn the vision of the Community Pharmacy Forward View into a reality. “Work is already underway with NHS England and others to ensure the sector gains access to the investment it needs from the pharmacy integration fund,” said Mr Darracott.
“Pharmacy Voice was created in the midst of the passage of the Health & Social Care Act. That major reorganisation of the NHS, and the changes that followed it, created a new landscape for the sector to navigate. The Community Pharmacy Forward View, and our plans to implement it, recognise this new reality. Up and down the country, local LPC leaders, leading practitioners and innovator companies know that change is needed, and have been working with us to achieve it.”
He continued: “In addition to delivering on the promise of the Community Pharmacy Forward View we will also continue the discussion we have been holding with our member organisations on the future representation of the sector. We have always believed in the need to maximise the combined resources of the network through more effective joint working, both between the sector’s national bodies and with other partner organisations. I’m disappointed that this announcement has pre-empted the conclusion of some of those discussions, but my team and I remain committed to participating in dialogue on the future of a sector we care so deeply about.
“Regardless of how it is delivered in the future, the need for the thought leadership and sector-led development that Pharmacy Voice was established to provide, has never been more essential than it is today.”
In response to the announcement, Sue Sharpe, PSNC chief executive, said: “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. 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.”
Numark said it is disappointed to learn that the NPA has decided to withdraw its support for Pharmacy Voice.
“Community pharmacy has historically suffered from fragmentation and the lack of a coherent voice,” said managing director John D'Arcy. ”Pharmacy Voice – as a confederation – provides the opportunity of a single voice for community pharmacy in England whilst retaining the identities of constituent organisations. In recent years Pharmacy Voice has made considerable progress in developing a blueprint for the future of community pharmacy, the most recent example of this being the Community Pharmacy Forward View Document.
“It is difficult to see how Pharmacy Voice can survive without the support of one of its key partners. The demise of Pharmacy Voice would see a return to the all too familiar days of fragmentation within pharmacy and associated mixed messages. If ever there was a time for togetherness in pharmacy it is now. NPA’s decision flies in the face of pharmacy unity and as such must be seen as a poorly timed retrograde step.”