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‘Open to all indies’: AIMp rebrands as Independent Pharmacies Association

Community pharmacy’s acronym-addled register of organisations has a new entry as AIMp widens its membership to transform into the IPA.

The Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) is now the Independent Pharmacies Association (IPA), it announced yesterday (April 29).

The association will no longer exclusively represent pharmacy contractors with multiple branches but will be “open to all independents”, it said.

Read more: ‘A history of failure’: Weldricks boss blasts pharmacy negotiator

According to the IPA, its new identity is a response to demands from “independent community pharmacists for an association that properly represents their interests”.

“The IPA will not primarily be an insurance organisation with membership attached,” it declared. 

 

Tapping into independents

 

The IPA said that independent pharmacies find their needs “overlooked” and “struggle to make themselves heard”, but that its strategy will “ensure” its members “thrive”.

IPA chair David Vanns said that the IPA would “speak up with courage and conviction” on behalf of independents, with its “growing membership” a “testament” to its dedication to this mission. 

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

“It is only right that we are treated with respect and that we are paid accordingly,” he added.

The rebrand will “provide a clearer identity and afford a strong voice to the thousands of independent pharmacies in England and Wales”, the IPA said.

 

Trouble brewing

 

Vanns said that the association will “press the cause of all independents” and ensure they are “properly represented” on Community Pharmacy England’s (CPE) board.

Independent pharmacies operate “very differently” to large multiples, with NHS prescription dispensing and offering NHS services their “priority”, he added.

And more than 90% of independent pharmacy “business” is directly derived from the NHS, the IPA said.

Read more: David and Goliath: Small chains now run more pharmacies than large multiples

According to the organisation, “independent” pharmacies now account for around 68% of the community pharmacy sector in England.

But it reiterated that large multiples, represented by the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), are “over-represented” on the negotiator’s board.

Vanns, who is also Weldricks Pharmacy’s operations director, lambasted CPE in an exclusive interview with C+D in March, calling the negotiator “heavily biased towards corporate multiples” and “no longer fit for purpose”.

Read more: CPE 'very concerned' over Leadsom 'thriving’ pharmacy market comments

At the time, CPE told C+D that it had “nothing further to add” on the composition of its committee and that its “clear position is that pharmacy funding levels are unsustainable”.

In November, the IPA – then known as AIMp - called on CPE’s committee to “adopt a model of proportionality that reflects the composition of pharmacy contractors with immediate effect”.

The same month, CPE released a statement in which it “reaffirmed” that it will only re-examine its composition - which it said is 50% multiple and 50% independent - “in line with its election cycle every four years”.

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