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.