Welcome to the first of our new blogs, this from NPA Chairman Ian Strachan:

24 May 2016

Winston Churchill once said "Never give in — never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in."

The NPA, together with other sector bodies, are approaching this last week of the official consultation with Churchill’s advice in mind. We will never, never give in – and we want you to know that with your help we will do everything in our power to fight the ill-thought out plans proposed for community pharmacy.

On the campaign front the Downing Street petition now stands at a staggering 1.8 million signatures – it is the largest UK petition ever. Its success is attributable to the support and consistency you have applied to the cause and I salute each and every one of you involved.  The petition symbolises not only the breadth of our support but the potential political consequences for a Government that has ignored the real victims to these proposals: the elderly, the vulnerable, the immobile and those without access to transport. The housebound; those who pharmacy has helped to remain living independently in their own homes for longer. The frail, and those who have little resource or influence to fight back.

I appeal to all of you to defy the doubters. Defy those who feel it is a fait accompli, because the campaign is by no means over yet.  It does not end today with the handing over of that petition.  We are going to push on with mobilising political opinion against the current trajectory of Department of Health policy.

We need to increase the numbers on the parliamentary e-petition, which can be found at http://j.mp/pharmacypetition – please use your websites, your email contacts and your social media to share this link and encourage every friend or family member to sign it!

Once we have 100,000 signatures on the e-petition we will be able to lobby our MPs in Parliament to debate the issue – meaning that David Cameron will be able to hear some actual facts about the vital role of pharmacy in every community, rather than the ill-informed response he gave at PMQs last month.

Your help will make a difference. Now that we’ve delivered the biggest petition of all time, we need to back it up by collecting more signatures online and making a further stand against the government’s ill-conceived plans directly to our elected officials.

As Churchill said, we must never, never, never give in.

Speak to you all again soon