NPA calls for a re-think on “disenfranchising” pharmacy representation vote

The steering group taking forward the Review of Pharmacy Representation in England has issued its plan for a voting process for the reform of PSNC and LPCs.

  The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) today called for a re-think. NPA chair, Andrew Lane, said: “There’s a clear case for changing the way pharmacy contractors are represented in England, especially in the light of emerging NHS structures at local level.  We need a system that works seamlessly from end to end – local to national. “However, if change is to be sustainable and legitimate, it must be widely supported across community pharmacy. The Review Steering Group has said that it is seeking to build a consensus for change, yet the Group’s proposed voting mechanism falls short of what is needed to guarantee a way forward that commands the support of the whole sector. “Under these proposals, a very small number of large pharmacy businesses could outvote thousands of independent contractors, effectively disenfranchising the independent sector. “The voices of independent contractors must be properly heard in this process, by getting the explicit consent of the independent sector through a fair vote”. The RSG plans to hold a single vote to approve (or not) the proposals for future contractor representation and support at both a national and local level. A two-thirds majority of all those casting a vote is required to approve the vote, with a ‘target voter turnout’ of 66% of the contractor base.…

You’ll be our anchor, First Minister of Wales tells NPA members

The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, and Wales’ Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Andrew Evans were among guests to gather at Cardiff Castle on Monday to celebrate the centenary of the National Pharmacy Association.

Mark Drakeford told the assembled NPA members:  “The word ‘community’ in community pharmacy means something. As well as being an essential clinical resource, community pharmacy is an economic driver.  As we rebuild after the pandemic, you will be one of the anchors that help maintain the vitality of local high streets.” He praised the work of pharmacy teams during the pandemic, saying: “You have been on the frontline of the extraordinary experience we’ve all been through. Without you we wouldn’t have got through this together… that’s why there is support for community pharmacy across the political spectrum in Wales.” Making a formal toast, Andrew Evans said: “We have ambitions for a reinvented community pharmacy service – one that is thoroughly modern but built around the values and behaviours that are intrinsic to independent community pharmacy. The NPA and its members will have an invaluable role in that future.” Health & Social Services Minister, Eluned Morgan, told guests, via a recorded video message, that the lessons of the pandemic will “help us further develop the role of pharmacies” and promised ongoing support. She looked forward to “a positive agreement [with Community Pharmacy Wales] later this financial year, which will reflect our shared ambition that every community pharmacy in Wales will provide an extended range of services, available consistently across the country.”…

Take hub and spoke to the competition watchdog, says NPA

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) wants the competition watchdog to look into hub and spoke dispensing, to ensure the system can operate without undermining choice in the medicines supply chain and disadvantaging independent pharmacies.

  The NPA says that there needs to be a dynamic and competitive market in which hubs compete on the basis of quality of service and price for the custom of pharmacies that want to operate this model. Its board has suggested five tests for maintaining fair competition and choice within hub and spoke dispensing:   Hubs must be registered pharmacies and meet all GPhC/PSNI standards. Hubs must be prevented from using their trusted position in the supply process to try to circumvent the relationship between the spoke and the patient, for example by using patient dispensing data for other commercial reasons or inserting branding or advertising material into packs to be supplied to a patient. The current barriers to entry for a hub provider presented by the direct to pharmacy (DTP) and limited wholesaler schemes must be removed so that any registered provider meeting standards can operate and compete in this market. A common set of standards should set out the duties and accountabilities of a dispensing hub and professional metrics which must be collected and published by the hub to assist the spoke in selecting a potential provider. Any mechanism which is designed to prevent a pharmacy from easily switching hub provider should be prevented, thus ensuring that pharmacies can drive competitive pressures in this market.   To achieve the third test, the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 would need to be updated to put an obligation on all manufacturers to supply the reasonable needs of all registered holders of a wholesaler dealer’s licence or a registered pharmacy.…

New health secretary committed to pharmacy, NPA conference told  

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) conference heard today (5 July) that Sajid Javid, the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, is committed to community pharmacy and has already had talks on the subject with Public Health Minister Jo Churchill.

Jo Churchill told the audience of independent pharmacy owners and health service stakeholders: “The new secretary of state and I have already had conversations about pharmacy and its value to the system, so I’m sure that commitment is there.  As a government, we are committed to the idea of community pharmacy as the first port of call for minor illnesses and having a key role at the heart of primary care and prevention.” “I believe you have an essential role as part of the NHS family and bring amazing value to local communities”, she added. During her 30-minute address, the Minister thanked pharmacies for going “above and beyond” during the pandemic. She said that she, Sajid Javid and his predecessor Matt Hancock were all grateful for the work of pharmacies in supplying vital medicines and keeping people safe. She expected the number of pharmacist-led Covid vaccination sites to go up “by hundreds”. The NPA conference continues online until Thursday. …

Pharmacy Minister backs new plan to beat COVID and rebuild NHS  

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) today launched “a bold plan” for England’s community pharmacies to protect the population from COVID-19, improve access to primary care and prevent ill health.

Speaking at this week’s NPA conference, Public Health Minister Jo Churchill MP said she is “encouraged” by the plan and wants to see community pharmacy sitting at the heart of primary care. The plan, called How We Can Help, argues that pharmacies are well placed for a central role in delivering booster COVID-19 vaccinations, allowing GPs to focus on clearing the care backlog in the NHS. It highlights pharmacists’ strong face-to-face relationships with patients and years of experience delivering flu vaccines.  It also covers pharmacy’s broader potential in preventing ill health, managing long term conditions and providing access to care near to where people live, work and shop. NPA chair, Andrew Lane, said: “Today we’re launching the National Pharmacy Association’s bold plan to unleash the potential of community pharmacy in England. Provided there’s sufficient ongoing support from government and NHS, pharmacies can help get the country through the pandemic, help the NHS catch up on lost ground and be a foundation stone for better care in the future.  Pharmacies have been central to the NHS response to Covid throughout, and you can be sure that the end of lockdown won’t be the end of the story of our sector’s epic contribution.…

Mayor of London in awe of community pharmacy

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has described community pharmacy teams as “unsung heroes” during the pandemic and said it was in the interests of government to inject more funding into the sector.

The comments were made during a In Conversation with Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London event organised by the Asian Media Group and Eastern Eye newspaper on Thursday (29 April). NPA chief executive, Mark Lyonette asked the Mayor, “Would the Mayor like to take this opportunity to thank the capital’s 1800 community pharmacy teams for staying open throughout the pandemic, thereby keeping the wheels on the NHS and maintaining access to advice, medicines and vaccines?” Mr Khan responded that he was “in awe and grateful for our pharmacy teams across London” and described them as “unsung heroes.” “I’ve been to pharmacies in many occasions over the last few weeks and months, not least receiving my flu jab. I have asthma so I go to a pharmacy regularly. Many people couldn’t go see their GP, they couldn’t get an appointment they didn’t have the confidence to use technology. The human beings that were available, that were the experts, were pharmacists. “I’m so in awe and grateful of pharmacies across our city. Many of them are small independent family businesses and they have shown the public how brilliant they are.” Jignesh Patel, from Rohpharm pharmacy in Newham, asked the Mayor about pharmacy funding. The Mayor responded that there is a strong economic case for investment in pharmacies and that London needs a strong network of pharmacies to help handle the next pandemic, when it comes.…

Natural justice demands repayment of Covid costs, says NPA, as annual contract negotiations begin

  The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee announced today that formal tripartite negotiations on the arrangements for the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) in 2021/22 have begun. They also confirmed that there is still no resolution on the extra costs borne by pharmacies in England to operate during the pandemic. NPA chair, Andrew Lane, said: “It is massively disappointing that pharmacies are still waiting for a resolution on Covid costs. The Prime Minister’s warm words about the heroics of pharmacy teams during the pandemic will sound very hollow unless he keeps his promise to reimburse pharmacies for the costs they have incurred to keep vital services running. “Community pharmacies have kept their side of the bargain – staying open to keep people well, save lives and help the country out of lockdown.  In so serving the nation, pharmacies have incurred considerable extra costs that natural justice demands to be repaid. “The NHS would not have been able to cope over the past 12 months without an accessible network of pharmacies near to where people live, work and shop. “We need this sorted quickly, to avoid a collapse in morale and the acceleration of pharmacy closures.” The negotiations announced today are between PSNC and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) supported by NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I).  …

NPA reaches 100 years milestone

One hundred years ago this week, the National Pharmacy Association held its first board meeting at the Hearts of Oak Friendly Society in Euston Road, London.

To mark the NPA’s centenary, MPs have offered their congratulations in the form of a parliamentary Early Day Motion. A celebratory webinar, due to take place on Wednesday evening, was postponed in light of the official week-long period of mourning for the death of Prince Philip. That event will instead take place on Wednesday 28 April (registration is at www.npa.co.uk/news-and-events/events/celebrating-100-years). The parliamentary motion, tabled by Scottish Nationalist MP, Dr Lisa Cameron, and co-signed by MPs from parties across the House of Commons, reads: That this House congratulates the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) as it celebrates 100 years of serving community pharmacies in the UK; notes that the NPA has helped its members through enormous change, including the formation of the NHS in 1948, the overhaul of medicines regulations in 1968, the massive expansion in the range of medicines available to patients and the establishment of new roles in public health, urgent care and managing long term conditions; recognises the vital contribution of pharmacies today, especially in the light of their work during the covid-19 pandemic; and looks forward to pharmacies playing an important role in the health, wellbeing and daily life of our communities in the years to come. The first board meeting in 1921 saw chairman John Deakin address the newly elected Executive Committee and outline the course that the new organisation (then called the Retail Pharmacists’ Union) should pursue.…

Pharmacy funding petition leaps to 89,000 following protests in key constituencies

Thousands more people have signed a petition calling on the government to recompense pharmacies for the extra costs they have incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, following protests by National Pharmacy Association members in the parliamentary constituency of chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Over 88,600 people have now signed the petition, up from approximately 50,000 three weeks ago when NPA members began campaigning in the constituencies of the Chancellor, Prime Minister, Health Secretary and other key ministers. The petition, launched in December and backed by grassroots campaigning organisation 38 Degrees, highlights that many independent pharmacies are in deficit and calls on the government to keep its promises to support the sector. NPA Chair, Andrew Lane, said: “Recent campaigning by NPA members in key constituencies has given fresh impetus to the petition. Patients and citizens are taking the opportunity to have their say on a matter of great significance to their daily lives – the viability of their local pharmacies and the future of vital NHS services.” The NPA is also asking pharmacists, their families and others working in and around the sector to sign the petition. Anyone wishing to do so should go to https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-our-local-pharmacies-2 The petition reads:   For months, pharmacy teams across the UK have been working without respite on the NHS frontline, playing a vital role in the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and helping reduce the pressure on GPs and A&Es. But the government hasn’t done enough to give community pharmacies the money they need to meet the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.…

MPs debate pharmacy and the impact of Covid-19

MPs discussed the impact of Covid-19 on community pharmacy and funding arrangements for the sector, during a House of Commons debate this week (Thursday 11 March).

Led by the chair of the All-Party Pharmacy Group, Jackie Doyle-Price MP, the debate drew on the findings of the December 2020 All-Party Pharmacy Group Covid-19 Inquiry Report which showed that many pre-existing challenges had been amplified by the pandemic. Seventeen MPs took part in the debate, including Pharmacy Minister Jo Churchill and her Labour Party opposite, Alex Norris. Jackie Doyle-Price and several others argued for a more secure financial footing for the community pharmacy sector. “My challenge is for DHSC and the NHS to properly look at how they can make sure pharmacies get a fair deal,” she said. Several MPs cited an Ernst and Young report commissioned by the NPA in 2020, which predicted that the average pharmacy will be making an annual loss of £43k by 2024, under current arrangements. Jo Churchill acknowledged that pharmacy teams have “worked unbelievably hard for the past year” and said she is “aware of concerns that current funding isn’t enough”. She continued, “We are still in discussions with the PSNC about the reimbursement of Covid-19 costs incurred by community pharmacy and I can reassure the house that the government will take a pragmatic approach.” Mark Lyonette, NPA Chief Executive said: “The level of parliamentary support for community pharmacy is at an all-time high, which is testament to the heroics of pharmacy teams during the pandemic as well as determined advocacy by NPA members and others.…