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NPA backs representation reforms despite reluctance

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NPA backs representation reforms despite reluctance

Independent pharmacies should vote ‘yes’ to proposals to reform representation within the sector, the National Pharmacy Association has said.

However, the NPA said it was supporting a yes vote to the Review Steering Group’s proposals with a “degree of reluctance,” explaining that the potential benefits “marginally outweigh” the arguments for rejecting them.

All community pharmacy contractors in England will have a vote on the RSG proposals, with the ballot taking place between May 27 and June 17. 

A key factor persuading the NPA to back a yes vote was the “key principle of voting parity between independents and multiple pharmacy groups,” which the trade body said was included on its insistence.

However, the NPA said the PSNC must act on “unfinished business” to make a success of the reforms, including “swift improvements” to the governance of the negotiator and of LPCs, with a “much higher degree of transparency.

The PSNC should be incorporated as a limited company so that it can be held accountable in company law, said the NPA, adding that the three main trade bodies should be engaged in local and national bodies in a consistent and equitable manner. 

The NPA also called for the publication and scrutiny of a comprehensive business case for proposals to transfer £1.5m from LPCs to the PSNC and how this will help to negotiate a better national contract.  

NPA chief executive Mark Lyonette said: “After much deliberation and engagement with members, we are recommending our members vote yes, because the alternatives are either the flawed status quo or a further period of uncertainty for the sector, with months or even years of introspection to come.

“There is no guarantee that going back to the drawing board, particularly with the same actors, would bring about a better outcome.” 

Mr Lyonette said the review process had been “frustrating” and ultimately “failed to deliver a compelling vision,” adding that the NPA was “hampered from the start by being written out of the initial proposals for the construction of the RSG”.

“Addressing this inequity between how different trade bodies are engaged in the PSNC and LPC structure is one element of important unfinished business.”

He concluded: “Busy contractors want pharmacy representatives to be fully focused on delivery, locally and nationally, not endlessly talking amongst themselves about structures and process. 

“If the process of change can be swiftly completed, we can all then turn our full attention to the many challenges currently facing pharmacy teams at the coalface, and strengthening relationships beyond the sector.”

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