National Pharmacy Association Board meeting – January 2019

24 Jan 2019

The National Pharmacy Association’s Board and Committees convened on 21-22 January. Chair of the Board, Nitin Sodha, reports:

The Board discussed next steps on the NHS Long Term Plan.

References in the plan to medicines, workforce, urgent care and prevention are all areas inherently in our sector’s sphere of interest. There is also a strong emphasis on care close to home, which we need to translate into concrete opportunities for community pharmacy. The NHS is planning for the next decade, but many pharmacies are currently managing only month-by-month, because of overwhelming pressures on their funding and rising medicines costs. A new, multi-year, funding settlement for community pharmacies in England is needed, to give pharmacy owners the confidence to invest in services that will meet the priorities described in the long term plan.

The NHS Plan is to a large extent a framework for commissioning at a local level, so a key challenge for the sector is to improve pharmacy engagement and collaboration locally. This is a very significant issue, and we’ll no doubt return to it many times in future.

With the official date for implementation of the Falsified Medicines Directive looming, the Board discussed the sector’s state of preparedness. Although it’s now unlikely that everybody will be ready on 9 February, it will be important for every pharmacy to show that they are on the way to full implementation. Clearly it is better to take the right steps than to make rash steps in order to meet the deadline. This would include signing up to long term PMR contracts without first checking exit clauses, or changing workflows before staff are properly trained in the new process.

A number of Board members brought to the table reports of pharmacies in their regions under immense pressure, due to reduced funding, medicines shortages and the inflated prices of many medicines. There are no easy answers, but it’s clear that the current situation isn’t sustainable. Please help us build up our bank of evidence about the situation on the ground, by taking part in our latest ‘operating environment’ survey which is closing shortly.

Damian Day and Julian Graville from GPhC explained the proposed changes to initial education and training standards, as well as the new inspection regime. We are pleased that our guests expressed an enthusiasm for pharmacist prescribing, which the NPA believes should be commonplace in future community pharmacy practice. The population’s health care needs are ever increasing, while doctors and nurses are retiring in large numbers, so the NHS needs a highly skilled pharmacy workforce now more than ever.  We were reminded by our guests about the importance of responding to the current consultation on initial education and training standards. You can view the consultation here.

We were joined once again by our Northern Ireland Manager, Anne McAlister, who is keeping the Board appraised of the funding situation in NI, alongside our Board representative for Northern Ireland, Mike Guerin. NPA members in NI have access to a number of new NPA resources, including an SOP for the Pharmacy First service.

The Membership Committee received a presentation on digital strategy.  Dispensing is still predicated on the old paper dispensing system as most pharmacies run EPS and paper systems concurrently.  However, pharmacies are not afraid of innovation and many have found effective ways to automate processes, freeing up time for patient care. The NPA is committed to doing more in the technology arena to support independents and help them take the digital journey that inevitably lies ahead.

This month we welcomed Olivier Picard to his first NPA Board meeting, following his recent election. Olivier is clearly very passionate about the independent sector and its potential to improve the nation’s health.

If you wish to comment on anything in this brief report of Board proceedings, please get in touch with your NPA regional board member, or email