The lobbying power of the medical profession is often put down to its unity. Doctors all seem to pull in the same direction. Actually, this is largely a myth. Behind closed doors medics fight like ferrets in a sack. What they are good at, however, is managing their differences and presenting a united front. If only pharmacy could do the same.
The NPA’s decision to pull out of Pharmacy Voice, which will in all likelihood spell the end of the latter, came as a blow to those who believe the sector can only benefit from having a unified voice and consistent messaging in its relations with policymakers and the NHS.
Despite much good work, infighting stymied PV from the very beginning. Its constituent bodies, and others outside the organisation, failed to manage their differences. Maybe deep-seated, conflicting interests and priorities meant that working together for the common good of pharmacy was only ever a pipe dream.
Time will tell whether the NPA will achieve its goal of “a strong and distinctive voice” for independent pharmacy, free from the supposed shackles of PV. Let us hope so. Independents need all the support they can get in these troubled times – which is precisely why the timing of the announcement seemed so at odds with the present situation. At a time when pharmacy needs to stick together more than ever, it appears fragmented and inward looking.
The Government is often accused of a ‘divide and rule’ approach in its dealings with community pharmacy, which is nonsense. The sector is more than capable of driving a wedge into itself all on its own.