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Most independents don’t think pharmacy negotiator is ‘representative’, says AIMp

The Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) has called for Community Pharmacy England (CPE) to “adopt a model of proportionality” for its committee. 

AIMp yesterday (November 30) released the results of a poll asking contractors whether they thought that the negotiator is “currently representative of community pharmacy in England”.

The poll, which launched this week (November 27) and garnered 379 responses, showed that 74% of respondents said that they didn’t think that CPE is representative.

Of the respondents, 99% were independent pharmacy owners and 51% were AIMp members.

In a statement released by AIMp alongside the data, the body said that CPE’s committee “must adopt a model of proportionality that reflects the composition of pharmacy contractors with immediate effect”.

AIMp highlighted concerns that despite the "huge reduction" in the number of branches belonging to members of the Company Chemist Association (CCA), CCA members "continue to retain the same number of seats” on the CPE committee.

It added that it has been asking CPE to address this "for many months" but that the negotiator has "consistently” said it is “unwilling to [do so]…before the next committee election” in 2025.

AIMp told C+D that it has “no confidence” in the negotiator.


“Completely undemocratic”


One poll respondent said that after the sale of all community pharmacies by Lloydspharmacy, revealed by C+D last month, “it is completely undemocratic for the make-up of [the] CPE board to remain the same”.

Another said that "there should be representative proportionality” for all membership bodies and types of pharmacy, including “high street, supermarket, distance-selling pharmacies (DSP) [and] pharmacies located in close proximity to GP practices".

One respondent said that the “exceptional sale” of Lloydspharmacy’s high street branches “should be reflected in the committee set up immediately and not in four years’ time".

"We have an opportunity to change now, before negotiations on the next contract start”, another added.


“An insult to independents”


AIMp’s survey data also showed that 89% of respondents "strongly disagree" with Pharamcy2U (P2U) joining CPE’s committee.

The membership body was critical that P2U has "taken up a CCA position on [the] CPE committee without any form of consultation".

One respondent to the poll said that “allowing P2U on [CPE’s] committee is just an insult to independents".

However, another said that although independents “may not like P2U being represented, it’s clear that [it is] a contractor”, adding that they “don't see any legal/contractual basis for this argument”.


CPE: “Detrimental to continuity”


Reacting to the claims, CPE pointed C+D to a statement issued earlier this week (November 27) outlining that a committee meeting last month “reaffirmed” the current “representation proportions for each part of the sector”.

It said that in September, the committee voted “to regularly review its composition, looking at pharmacy ownership data, in line with its election cycle every four years”.

It stressed that “this is in line with independent governance advice”.

“To continuously amend committee composition in between election cycles would be both detrimental to continuity and stability in governance”, it said.

However, it added that “the committee can review this or any of its decisions at any time”.


“An internal matter”


Also responding to AIMp’s claims, the CCA told C+D that the number of seats it holds “is an internal matter for the CPE committee” that “the CCA does not determine”.

“Moreover, who the CCA nominates to the CPE committee is an internal matter for the CCA, and requires no wider consultation”, it said.

It also noted that the “CPE committee voted on this matter recently”.

The membership organisation added that it is “now fully focused on supporting [its] members and the wider sector to successfully deliver Pharmacy First and the other services recently announced as part of the primary care recovery plan”.

P2U did not respond to a C+D request for comment.

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