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Strike action ‘very, very unwise’ warns PSNC chief executive

By Neil Trainis

PUBLISHED: November 7, 2016 | UPDATED: November 22, 2016

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By Neil Trainis
Sue Sharpe, the chief executive of the PSNC, has conceded the negotiating body has been unable to drive strike action among contractors in protest at the government's funding cuts, suggesting that such a move would be “very, very unwise.”
As community pharmacy continues to absorb potentially crippling government cuts to its funding pharmacy leaders, backed by sections of the Labour party determined to see the Conservatives pilloried for their policies, search for some kind of riposte to the measures.
Legal action has been considered by the National Pharmacy Association, although that was discounted as a possibility by Sharpe (pictured) during the LPC conference. She used the same event to explain why the PSNC has not attempted to use strike action to force the government into a change of heart.
“The PSNC has given every consideration to our approach and strategy over many years. PSNC comprises elected contractor representatives and appointed contractor representatives for the larger chains,” Sharpe said.
“There have been no alternative approaches to strategy put forward and rejected by any of them, not the large multiples with their greater teams and resources nor the independents who have the value of the local networks and the understanding of the services on the ground.
“The imposition to all of us as a body though, the competitive and diverse nature of the sector, means that we have never been able to command strike action and personally, I believe it would be very, very unwise. Our greatest advocates are the people who would suffer if we took strike action.
“It happened in Ireland a few years ago. It was a disaster. We have to manage. We have to do what we can. We need to think again about how we embrace collaborative working whilst continuing to challenge bad policy.”
In January David Reissner, senior healthcare partner at Charles Russell, said pharmacists who strike would be breaching their terms of service with NHS England who could impose sanctions.