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NPA chairman sheds new light on Pharmacy Voice split

Ian Strachan: We have to mobilise the best team to tackle the challenges of the future

The chairman of the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has opened up about the reasons behind the organisation’s split from Pharmacy Voice.

Speaking exclusively to C+D three weeks before Pharmacy Voice’s announcement that it would disband as a result of the NPA’s decision , Ian Strachan stressed it is important to make sure “all the good things that have come out of [the relationship] continue”.

2017 marks the end of the NPA’s initial three-year agreement to fund Pharmacy Voice, and while Mr Strachan admitted “we weren’t in control of the timing [of the split]…now feels like the right time”.

“If you look at the kind of challenges that are coming down the track – rebalancing, supervision, the ‘Amazonisation’ [of pharmacy], hub-and-spoke [dispensing], digitisation – we have to mobilise the best team that can take that on,” he told C+D last month (January 11).

“There needs to be a joined-up, more cohesive, consolidated leadership for this sector and that is underpinned – not just by structures – but by the right people.”

He added: “I have to put the interests of members first."

Split does not “fly in the face of unity”

Mr Strachan was adamant that the ‘split’ was not a “backwards step for the sector” – as viewed by 61% of C+D readers.

“For some people, it might appear to fly in face of ‘unity’ messages, but it doesn’t at all,” he said.

“My job is to defend the independent sector and ensure its contribution is maximised,” the NPA chairman said. “That requires an understanding of what the different components of this sector stand for, and the different needs and agendas.”

“We have a chance to shape the agenda, but it requires a strategy from the sector,” he added. “This idea that joint working will stop is not true. Pharmacy Voice is one vehicle for that.”

The trade association is committed to funding Pharmacy Voice until the end of the year, and a taskforce has been set up to discuss how best to manage the separation, the NPA confirmed during the interview.

Read more about what happened in C+D’s interview with Mr Strachan – including the one phrase about pharmacy that “really gets to” him – here.

What should the NPA's next steps be?
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