Community pharmacy unifies

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Disparate community phar--macy groups have come together to present a united front on issues affecting the com-munity pharmacy sector.

The Community Pharmacy Leaders Forum includes the Pharmacy Guild, Pharmaceutical Society, Life Pharmacy, Radius and Pharmacybrands.

The development is significant considering all these parties have, at times, not seen eye to eye on major issues affecting community pharmacy – either due to personality clashes or philosophical differences. This fragmentation has left the community pharmacy sector in a weak position.
“Many groups are doing good work in their own right, but they are divided on major issues which make us great to negotiate against.

“The formation of the forum will immediately open doors and provide a listening voice at the highest level,” Radius pharmacy director, Mike Seymour, says.

This unity, he says, will allow the guild to be more effective in negotiating contracts and also work more closely with the society on new funding platforms to support community pharmacy services long term.

In a joint statement issued to formally announce the group’s formation, its members say they have come together to align the common interests of all providers of community pharmacy services that play a vital role in primary care.

“Community pharmacy services play an important role in delivering the outcomes identified in the Government’s primary healthcare and medicines strategies and must be underpinned by clear objectives and a sound funding and regulatory structure,” the members say.

“[The forum] embraces a wide group of interests holding the common view that a more focused and coordinated approach to community pharmacy service issues would benefit all stakeholders.”

The forum will work to ensure health sector stakeholders understand the vital role community pharmacy services currently play in community health and wellbeing, and future opportunities to contribute to its improvement.

It will also agree on priorities, frameworks and strategies for the funding and delivery of community pharmacy services and will promote a stable regulatory environment that enables community pharmacy services to be delivered in a viable and sustainable manner.

“The level of understanding across all issues within this group is immense, not carried by one player, but a lot of expertise in each little corner. It is clear they will be listened to, and on the big issues the message will be clear and united,” Mr Seymour says.

Other members on the forum are: Pharmacybrands’ Alan Wham, Life Pharmacy’s Des Flynn, the guild president Ian Johnson and the society’s Richard Townley. They will now meet regularly.

The critics, however, argue the organisation does not seem to provide representation for those working in clinical or advisory capacity in the primary care setting.

Clinical, Consultant and Aca-demic Pharmacists Association (CAPA) president, John Dunlop, says since his organisation has not been party to any discussions on the forum, they assume it’s meant to achieve a better negotiating position focusing purely on services from a community pharmacy, such as dispensing and MUR level services.

“It would be difficult for this group to address the issues involving pharmacist services provided from other specialty areas which interface with community pharmacy: such as pharmacists working in hospitals, primary care and PHOs. We would think if we were going to embrace the extended pharmacist activities in a unified manner, then it would require another type of forum,” Mr Dunlop says.

He says CAPA is “a little disappointed” the Pharmaceutical Society has not considered the necessity for input from all parties, including CAPA, NZHPA and the universities.

“It seems very elitist the predominantly owner motivated organisations wish to keep the play within their own ranks,” he says in a formal statement to Pharmacy Today.

Mr Seymour argues the society, a key member of the new forum, already represents that group.

Pharmaceutical Society chief executive, Richard Townley, says CPLF is not a separate organisation, but “a forum” for all community pharmacy leaders to meet and discuss strategy and information.

“It will enable a unity of message from the forum member organisations when advocating on behalf of pharmacists and pharmacy and in engaging key stakeholders,” he says.

Newly elected Pharmacy Guild president, Ian Johnson, agrees, saying the forum will create an environment for community pharmacy to foster better relationships.

“It gives an opportunity for people to have heart to heart talks about things, so that each participant group representing community pharmacy can then carry out their individual function with cognisance of a bigger picture,” he says.

“[It will] make sure the activity that Radius, Life, Pharmacybrands, Pharmacy Guild or the society do is consistent with the bigger picture. That sort of alignment is very important.”

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