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The C+D Debate: Is the NPA/PV split 'a backwards step'?

What will the split between the two community pharmacy bodies mean for the sector?

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) announced last week (December 13) that it will discontinue its alliance and pull its funding for Pharmacy Voice from 2017, signalling the end of the pharmacy bodies' three-year agreement.

The NPA argued the move will make the structure of community pharmacy easier to understand. But the decision has split the sector – with one community pharmacy boss calling the move a "retrograde step".

C+D looked into both sides of the debate, and asks: Is the split between the two a backwards step for community pharmacy? 

We'd like to get your views – so make sure you vote in the C+D poll

The split 'weakens the sector'

Tricia Kennerley, Walgreen Boots Alliance

Tricia Kennerley, the vice president and director of international public affairs at Walgreens Boots Alliance – the parent company of Boots – criticised the timing of the NPA's split from Pharmacy Voice, and argued it would weaken the sector at a time when pharmacists needed to be "unified". 

Kennerley told C+D the split was "very disappointing". "At a time when the sector is facing difficult times, it’s really important that we are unified in our representation to the government and NHS England to build a stronger role for pharmacy that can help alleviate some of the burdens facing the NHS."

“We should be working together to achieve this. Fragmenting the sector back into different representative organisations will not help the situation."

Ash Soni, former RPS chair

Former Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) president Ash Soni said the split is a strange step. “It seems an odd move," he told C+D. "The NPA was a key driver in developing Pharmacy Voice as the voice of community pharmacy owners”, he said.

Currently, Pharmacy Voice represents the NPA as well as the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) and the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), in a three-year agreement that will end next year.

The move allows for a positive future

Salim Jetha, Avicenna chief executive

On the other side of the debate, the CEO of independent pharmacy group Avicenna, Salim Jetha, said the split could be a significant move forward for the sector.

“The split will free the NPA to carry out its mandate to concentrate on the independent sector”, he said. “Perhaps Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) should review its operational methods and absorb some of the positive aspects of Pharmacy Voice,” he added.

Although PSNC is not one of the three founding members of Pharmacy Voice, it has worked with them on initiatives such as the Community Pharmacy Forward View

Sandra Gidley, RPS England chair

The RPS English Pharmacy Board chair Sandra Gidley said the move would offer the society an opportunity to "provide leadership", she told C+D. 

"We will continue to work closely with Pharmacy Voice, the NPA, the PSNC and all other bodies in pharmacy to make sure there is a joined up voice for community pharmacy.

“The RPS remains focused on providing leadership for the whole profession, across Great Britain, advocating for improved patient care through better use of pharmacists.”


Is the NPA's split from Pharmacy Voice a backwards step for the sector?
Total votes: 109
Is the split a backwards step for the sector? Make sure you vote in our poll.

Brian Austen, Senior Management

The CCA and NPA are incompatible with each other. The NPA is a trade organisation that represents independent contractors. The RPS should represent all Pharmacist members. The AIMP should decide whether to join with the CCA or NPA. Their larger members, 30 plus pharmacies probably fit better with the CCA. The PSNC should have representation from all representative bodies but with CCA being restricted to 40% of PSNC members.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Who cares... will make no difference to those of us on the frontline anyway.

Yuna Mason, Sales

If Boots says it's a bad thing for pharmacy, then it's a good thing for pharmacy and bad news for them. The independents are the customers of the multiples for the purchase of medicines, so their interests cannot be aligned even if you do put them under one roof and call it "pharmacy voice".

Chaitanyakumar. Jayantilal. Patel, Community pharmacist

We need a united SINGLE voice for pharmacy. In the past we had too many bodies 'representing pharmacists and pharmacies'. I thought the setting up of Pharmacy Voice was a step in the right direction and it was effective in making sure those outside pharmacy heard our message from a single body. This is a big backward step.


Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

"We need a united SINGLE voice for pharmacy."

No we don't. Because there are now at least two groups within 'pharmacy' with polar opposite interests - employee pharmacists/locums and contractors. One body cannot represent both interests. Personally, I would like to see a strong union that fight the corner for employee pharmacists and locums - the PDA is as weak as dishwater.


Matthew Edwards, Community pharmacist

Some of your independent contractors would be a little hurt to be lumped in with the multiples. As I have said before we are not all bad

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Community pharmacy is a wet as water, divided profession, which the government loves as it can divide and rule ! We need to be like the GPs or Junior Drs, one body and one voice.

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