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'It's challenging to say sorry for loss of Pharmacy Voice'

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Rob Darracott: 2017 was going to be interesting for Pharmacy Voice, but we've had to cut it short
Rob Darracott: 2017 was going to be interesting for Pharmacy Voice, but we've had to cut it short

The former chief executive of Pharmacy Voice spent his last weeks at the organisation "saying sorry" for the sector’s lost “unified response”, he has told C+D.

Speaking exclusively to C+D on May 3 – the week after Pharmacy Voice closed its doors for good – Rob Darracott said "one of the most challenging bits of the last few weeks" has been having "to go to people who look to us for a unified [sector] response and say: 'Sorry about this'".

“[People] were looking [for] one organisation, and we were trying our best to represent everybody well,” he added. “We did what our members wanted us to do and 2017 was going to be really interesting.

“Until just before Christmas, [the Pharmacy Voice board] was very clear about what we were doing,” he stressed.

“[Now] the sector will never get to see what we could have done, because we had to cut it short."

Pharmacy Voice was created in 2010 because “there were too many organisations saying broadly the same thing” and the government and NHS England “didn’t know who to listen to”, Mr Darracott explained.

With Pharmacy Voice’s disbandment “maybe we’ll end up there again”, he said.

“No warning” on the split

2017 marks the final year of the National Pharmacy Association’s (NPA) three-year agreement to fund Pharmacy Voice, but the organisation officially closed its doors in April.

“[The NPA] was perfectly entitled to make that decision,” Mr Darracott told C+D. “But did we have any warning about it? No we didn't."

What’s next for the team?

Mr Darracott said the final three months of Pharmacy Voice's had been “very, very difficult for everybody concerned”.

He was one of four members to be made redundant following its disbandment, and three staff members have been “transferred” to the NPA and its other member organisations – the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) and the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA).

“I don’t have any long-term concerns about any of my colleagues, because we recruited the best,” he said.

“I watch with interest to see what will happen next.”

Look out for more coverage from C+D's exclusive interview with Mr Darracott later this month.

3 Comments
Question: 
What do you make of Mr Darracott's remarks?

Dipan Shah, Community pharmacist

So 7 years aftet setting up pharmacy voice what did you achieve Mr. Darracott?
Removal of criminal convictions for dispensing errors? NO
Fair working conditions for pharmacists? NO
Improved status for the profession? NO
New Services that properly utilise the skills of the pharmacy team?

What did happen?
Increase in workplace pressures!
Reductions in staffing !
Reductions in pay!

Jay Badenhorst, Superintendent Pharmacist

"[Now] the sector will never get to see what we could have done, because we had to cut it short"

Why not tell us anyway. May make for some interesting reading....

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

'Pharmacy Voice was created in 2010 because “there were too many organisations saying broadly the same thing”...'

Interesting concept that... there were too many organisations saying the same thing, so why not set one more up?!

Having 'one unified voice' is an impossibility in pharmacy at the moment because the interests of the different parties involved are poles apart. Example... Mr Darracott has lobbied for the removal of the 'cap' on MURs - how many working pharmacists (not including contractors) would support that idea? Reminds me of Braveheart - unite the clans!

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