The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) is asking independents to vote ‘yes’ to reform of pharmacy representation in England as a three-week voting period opens on Friday, May 27.
The NPA is also calling on PSNC to complete unfinished business and present ‘the compelling case for change’ that the Review Steering Group was unable to deliver.
The Associations says it is “on balance” and with some degree of reluctance supporting an affirmative vote, because the benefits marginally outweigh the several valid arguments for a “no” vote.
NPA chief executive, Mark Lyonette, said on Thursday (May 19): “After much deliberation and engagement with members, we are recommending our members vote yes, because the alternatives are either the flawed status quo or a further period of uncertainty for the sector, with months or even years of introspection to come. There is no guarantee that going back to the drawing board, particularly with the same actors, would bring about a better outcome.
“The review process has been incredibly frustrating and it failed to deliver a compelling vision of the way forward. The NPA sought to engage at all stages on behalf of its members and in good faith throughout. We have supported the independent reps on the RSG who had an unenviable task taking part in this marathon alongside running their own businesses.
“We recognised that only a handful of independent contractors would engage directly and that our members would expect us to represent their interests on their behalf. However the NPA was hampered from the start by being written out of the initial proposals for the construction of the RSG. Addressing this inequity between how different trade bodies are engaged in the PSNC and LPC structure is one element of important unfinished business.
“Busy contractors want pharmacy representatives to be fully focused on delivery, locally and nationally, not endlessly talking amongst themselves about structure and process. If the process of change can be swiftly completed, we can all then turn our full attention to the many challenges currently facing pharmacy teams at the coalface, and strengthening relationships beyond the sector.”
The NPA says the following must happen to make a success of the reforms:
- Swift improvements to the governance of PSNC and LPCs, including clear accountability and a much higher degree of transparency; this should include incorporation of PSNC as a limited company so it is at least held accountable to the tried and trusted accountabilities of company law.
- Consistency and equity in how the three main trade bodies are engaged in local and national structures.
- Publication and scrutiny of a full business case for the proposed transfer of £1.5 million from LPCs to PSNC; the additional funding available to PSNC should be directed to the core mission of negotiating an improved national contract. It is not a given that more contractor money going into the centre will necessarily mean more money coming back to contractors through a better contract.
- Optimised local engagement at the level of Integrated Care Systems.
- A shared vision for the future, characterised by integrated clinical services which build on the core medicines supply function but is not defined by it.
The Review Steering Group published its proposals on 29 April. These are viewable on the RSG website here.