The NPA has limited its full membership exclusively to independent pharmacies in an effort to increase representation and support for the independent sector.
The NPA announced today (January 15) that only independents, including independent multiples, would have access to full membership, while national multiples would have access to a range of services but would not be represented by the association.
In an exclusive interview with C+D yesterday (January 14), NPA chief executive Mike Holden said the strategy would allow the NPA to "increase the level of engagement with independent members" through two national conferences and a number of regional events being held this year.
"Independents are the heart and soul of the NPA and everything we do is to ensure they have a thriving future" Mike Holden, NPA
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Mr Holden would not reveal specific details on which services would be provided for independents and which for multiples, but he said the NPA would launch exclusive services to members over the next few months.
He said the move would enable the NPA to speak louder on issues that affected the independent sector, as the NPA board would be made up exclusively of independent pharmacists and no longer include Company Chemists' Association members.
"We will be representing independents and not the national multiples, so we can be clear about the importance of listening to independents and recognising their needs," Mr Holden told C+D.
"We want to be explicit that independents are the heart and soul of the NPA and everything we do is to ensure they have a thriving future," he added.
The plans would enable the NPA to address the specific challenges facing independents, Mr Holden said, and act as a back office for businesses that needed support. But he said the NPA's offering would be much broader and deeper than commercially driven independent support groups.
Mr Holden stressed the NPA had been in discussions with the Independent Pharmacy Federation (IPF) for some time and the two organisations would now work more closely for the benefit of the independent sector.
The IPF told C+D it welcomed "anything that strengthens the representation of independents" and said the sector needed to raise its profile.
Mr Holden also said that the decision was not the result of multiples walking away from the organisation – instead a mutual agreement that the NPA had been planning for more than a year.
"We are forging a new, simpler relationship with national multiples – it gives them the services they want, ensures the NPA is sustainable for the long term and gives us the clarity we require about the NPA's core constituency and purpose," he said.
NPA membership will be open to all independents, including independent multiples, and the organisation said the changes would not have any effect on prices.
How do you expect this move to affect the services the NPA provides?