Following Ms Sharpe's announcement this week that she will resign at the end of 2017, Mike Hewitson told C+D that pharmacists might not be as fortunate with the next PSNC lead.
"Sue has put in probably the most intense 18-months’ worth of work that any pharmacy representative has put in," he said. "She has been absolutely fighting tooth and nail for community pharmacy 24/7."
While no one was expecting the announcement, he said, "it probably doesn't come as a surprise for a lot of people, because we have all seen how hard she has been working".
Ms Sharpe most recently attended PSNC and the National Pharmacy Association's High Court challenge to the funding cuts in England.
“Now is probably a good time for her to ease off a little bit," Mr Hewitson added.
"This is the most thankless job in pharmacy”, because “whatever you negotiate is not right for somebody”.
"I honestly feel that Sue has played quite a strong hand over a period of time, and pharmacy and extended [parties] will miss her," Mr Hewitson added.
Sue Sharpe: “We need to continue to fight”
In a statement posted on the PSNC website following her announcement, Ms Sharpe said the last 18 months “have been very tough for the sector and for PSNC”.
"Whatever the outcome of the case, we will need to continue to fight to ensure that pharmacies’ support for patients and role in our communities is protected and developed," she said. "We are preparing the next stages in our campaign."
Numark: Successor must be of "high calibre"
Numark managing director John D’Arcy said the sector is “operating in very difficult, financially strapped times” and PSNC needs a successor of “high calibre” to “fill the very large gap” left by Ms Sharpe.
"We need to secure an engagement and alignment with the Department of Health (DH) and NHS England, which sees pharmacy fully recognised and properly rewarded," he said.
Ms Sharpe has made an “outstanding contribution to pharmacy” by bringing “a considerable skill set” to PSNC, and upholding a “steely determination” in negotiations with the DH, he added.
PSNC chair Mike Pitt said the negotiator "has already begun to consider a recruitment process for a replacement CEO", but finding the "right person...will take time".