The Pharmacy Representation Review (of the role of Local Pharmaceutical Committees and PSNC) has been underway since 2019, but little has been said yet about how contractors will approve change.
The NPA’s Head of Corporate Affairs, Gareth Jones, tells InPharmacy that voting criteria should be designed to ensure wide support for reform of pharmacy representation and support in England.
The NPA has proposed a ‘triple unlock’, which would set three requirements that must be met to approve a new structure. An absolute majority of all eligible independent voters must approve it. An absolute majority of all eligible multiple voters must approve it. And two-thirds of all those casting a vote across the entire sector must approve it.
This system ensures that the proposal secures consensus across the sector. It is not designed to put barriers in place of change – quite the opposite it is designed to ensure that change is deliverable and widely supported across the sector.
In line with the PSNC’s definition of what constitutes an independent, those with nine contracts or less would join the independent voting pool, and those with ten or more would be part of the multiple voting pool.
A simple majority vote system is stacked in favour of the multiples with their block votes. If we want the proposal to be designed with the needs of the independents in mind we have to ensure that they have the power to say no. A three-part mandate ensures that the proposal must meet the needs of everyone, not just those better able to exercise their vote.
The triple unlock would drive transparency and clear and strong communications with a need to secure a majority of all voters – not just those most engaged currently in the discussions. We all know the perils of dealing with a decision in which marginally more than 50% have voted in favour. Requiring a two thirds majority of all votes – meaning that there are at least two voters in favour for every one against – will ensure a clear and unambiguous result with a mandate to move forward. Consequently the triple unlock drives a supported and sustainable solution.
The time to agree the acceptance criteria is now whilst discussions are still at an early stage. So let's agree to an approval process that protects the interests of both sides of the sector and drives widely understood and supported change for the better.
Proposals for a radical overhaul of community pharmacy representation and support in England were published in June 2020, following a review beginning in 2019. It was titled ‘Independent Review of Community Pharmacy Contractor Representation and Support: Providing best value for contractors’. Jointly commissioned by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) and local pharmaceutical committees (LPCs), the work was led by Professor David Wright, Professor of Pharmacy Practice at the University of East Anglia. His research looked at ways the bodies can work together more effectively to provide value for money to help improve the ways pharmacies operate in the future. It is also hoped that it will ensure that the support network for contractors at both a local and nationwide level will be fit for the future. The review worked with a team of researchers taking evidence from focus groups and interviewing a wide range of people from the community pharmacy sector and beyond.
A Pharmacy Representation Review Steering Group (RSG) is currently exploring the recommendations in the independent review by Professor Wright. The RSG’s role is to look at the report recommendations from the perspectives of feasibility of delivery, cost, benefits to contractors and timelines and to come up with specific proposals for contractors to decide upon.
Pharmacy owners in England fund local representation via LPCs, and national negotiation via PSNC. This costs them on average £1000 per year per pharmacy in levy deduction payments. So the NPA believes members have a right to understand - and influence - what is going to happen next. The views of independents (well over half of all owners-contractors) must be clearly heard in this process.
Go to www.npa.co.uk/representing-you/wright-review/ for more information.