The National Pharmacy Association’s board and committees convened, remotely, on 29-30 June

02 Jul 2020

Chair of the Board, Andrew Lane, reports:
We discussed the developing coronavirus situation – not only how to help NPA members with present challenges but also the lessons that can be learned for the future from this crisis.

Our Policy & Practice Committee heard a presentation about pharmacy inspections from GPhC’s Claire Bryce-Smith and Julian Graville.  Our guests told us that they are taking a flexible approach to inspections in the light of the current pressure on pharmacies and the need for social distancing.  We will be working with GPhC to achieve a ‘new normal’ approach to inspections and wider regulation, taking into account the lessons of the past months.

The Committee examined the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer’s proposals for Foundation Pharmacist training.  There is a lot to commend in principle.  However, it is pointless emerging from initial training with skills that are not then deployed to help patients. Investment in community pharmacy services that make the most of independent prescribing skills is one of key factors necessary to make the foundation year worthwhile.

The Board is increasingly concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on our members’ finances.  Our meetings this week coincided with the announcement of a further £20 million advance to pharmacies in England. This doesn’t address the fundamental issues of sustainable funding, and we need the government to make good on its commitments to meet all the additional costs associated with coronavirus.  We can see no good reason why the Treasury has been unable to progress this, as other administrations in the UK have started to do.

There was an update on the NPA’s advocacy work, which has generated active support in parliament and elsewhere and achieved substantial media coverage, about the need for sector to have its costs met.

As usual, we received reports from our managers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  It is great to see the progress of Pro Delivery Manager in Wales and Northern Ireland.  In Scotland, there are very significant developments ahead, including the launch of NHS Pharmacy First to all Scottish pharmacies, a big step up from the Minor Ailments Service.

The issue of risk assessments for Covid-19, and in particular the position for black and minority ethnic staff in pharmacies was flagged in our committees.  A risk reduction template is available to support members to conduct assessments if they haven’t yet done so.

We were given a detailed briefing about new consumer research carried out for the NPA in June.  The results will be published shortly and I believe our members will find a great deal of encouragement in the data.

Other topics for the Board this month included hub and spoke dispensing, the future of FMD outside the European Union, and the review of pharmacy representation in England, which relates principally to the work of PSNC and local pharmaceutical committees.  Watch out for NPA video broadcasts on this topic next week.

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