The Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) has called upon all pharmacy organisations to unite and collectively represent the sector. While underlining the need for the sector to adopt a straightforward manifesto that can be presented to the public, politicians, and decision-makers, the association also advocated for a revitalisation of the ‘Save Our Pharmacies’ campaign, injecting it with renewed energy and a stronger sense of purpose.
AIMp pointed out that a lack of cohesion is one of the factors contributing to the sector’s struggle in gaining attention. “The current trajectory of community pharmacy is unsustainable,” said Dr. Leyla Hannbeck, Chief Executive of AIMp. “To tackle the significant challenges ahead, we must work together cohesively. The most effective approach is to actively engage with Parliament, leveraging politicians from across the political spectrum to advocate for our cause.”
Meanwhile, the association urged various pharmacy bodies to unite in support of the All Party Pharmacy Group (APPG) to enhance its effectiveness and broaden its influence, rather than working independently.
‘One sector, one manifesto’
AIMp underscored the need for the sector to adopt a straightforward manifesto that can be presented to the public, politicians, and decision-makers.
“It’s ineffective for each pharmacy organisation to have their own manifesto, essentially a lengthy wish-list that is often unrealistic and unachievable,” said Hannbeck. “Those in power can readily ‘divide and rule,’ pitting us against each other.”
“We should reach a consensus on one manifesto, adhere to it, and advocate for it steadfastly,” Dr Hannbeck added.
Revitalising the ‘Save Our Pharmacies’ Campaign
The pharmacy sector is facing a crisis with numerous closures. Surviving entities are struggling with the financial burden of expanding services, along with shortages in medications and staff, inflationary pressures, bureaucratic complexities, and the rising cost of operating on our high streets. Additionally, there’s a funding shortfall of at least £1.1 billion.
Despite these escalating demands, there seems to be a lack of receptiveness from both the government and NHS Executive. “In these challenging times,” Dr. Hannbeck emphasised, “it is crucial that we ensure our voices are heard.”
According to AIMp, the ‘Save Our Pharmacies’ campaign fell short of the sector’s anticipated success and failed to achieve the substantial impact it aimed for.
“We must relaunch the campaign with renewed energy and a stronger sense of purpose,” she added. This should involve increased participation from fellow sector CEOs, particularly in terms of strategic planning through our APPG.”
Unified roundtable proposal
AIMp advocates for a roundtable facilitated by the APPG to achieve a collective agreement among sector organisations. The primary goal is to address future concerns, specifically inadequate funding and the growing workforce challenges.
“Determining the overarching priorities is a collective decision. It is imperative for us to unite as a singular sector, moving forward along a unified trajectory,” Dr Hannbeck added.
On Sept 14, Parliamentarians are scheduled to convene for a pivotal debate on the future of community pharmacies. This discussion is occurring at a crucial moment, as pharmacies grapple with unprecedented challenges including workforce issues, medicine supply, and financial pressures.