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NPA Essential: February 2023

NPA Essential

NPA Essential: February 2023

This month’s key notes

Election process for new NPA board

Nominations for the NPA Board elections have opened and ballots will take place in February/March, to allow the new board to assemble for the first time in the Spring. All NPA members are eligible for nomination and we encourage everyone to think about what they could contribute in this role. The deadline for nominations will be in February.

Structure of the NPA Board A new structure for the Board is being introduced from April 2023:

• Members across Scotland, Wales and N Ireland will each elect a member to the Board (3)

• Larger members in England (6+ pharmacies) will elect members to represent Northern, Central and Southern areas (3)

• Smaller members in England (1-5 pharmacies) will elect members across six areas (6)

• The Board also has the power to co-opt additional members. The period April 2023 to March 2025 will see a transition to the new Board structure. This means that on this occasion Board members from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and those elected by the larger members in England, will be elected for a two-year term of office. These positions will be up for election again in April 2025, and thereafter these positions will be elected for four year terms. The positions for the six Board members elected by smaller members in England will run for four years. This will ensure that in future half the Board will be up for election every two years. Any member that wants to know more about the role of a Board member, or who has any questions about the election process should contact Gareth Jones (

NPA calls for medicines supply taskforce in light of antibiotics shortage

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to convene a ‘medicines supply taskforce’, following problems with supplies of antibiotics. In a letter to Steve Barclay, the NPA’s chief executive, Mark Lyonette, cited the precedent of the HRT Taskforce which last summer brought together representatives from across the supply chain after months of supply problems affectin women.

He wrote: “We strongly believe that this situation calls for a similar response from the government. It is imperative that we resolve this supply situation urgently and therefore we request that you convene a Medicines Supply Taskforce, with all the relevant stakeholders in the supply chain, to urgently discuss and agree practical solutions to address the disruptions to the supply of medicines. HRT and antibiotics are the most visible examples of a wider problem with medicines supply which needs to be addressed.”

NPA Board members Olivier Picard and Reena Barai were among the stakeholders joining meetings convened by the HRT Taskforce. Olivier said: “Getting people together is a necessary part of the process of fixing this chaos, because the whole system needs to work effectively, from top to bottom. It’s not just HRT and antibiotics - it’s a systemic and long-standing problem and it needs Government to grip it.”

Help make the case for fair funding

The NPA has created a suite of social media assets, infographics, template letters to MPs and columns for newspapers to help make the case for new investment in community pharmacy. These resources draw on an NPA-commissioned report by Professor David Taylor of University College London into the impact of rising costs coupled with ‘flat’ NHS pharmacy funding. Access the resources here:

Pharmacy leaders join forces to write to the Secretary of State

Community pharmacy’s national representative bodies, including the NPA, along with the four largest pharmacy chains in England, have jointly written to the Secretary of State for Health, Steve Barclay, warning that the sector needs urgent investment.

The letter says that the Government is facing a choice over the future of the country’s 11,000+ community pharmacies, with permanent closures likely and medicines supply at risk if no urgent action is taken. Community pharmacy has ambitions to help support the wider NHS and patients, including through a fully funded Pharmacy First service, the letter from the NPA, AIM, CCA, PSNC, Boots UK, LloydsPharmacy, Well, and Phoenix UK, says. But it warns that the 30 per cent real terms funding cuts that pharmacies have faced over the past seven years have left many businesses with a cash flow crisis.

Urgent investment is now needed to help the sector to re-build capacity and sustainability. If the funding situation is not addressed, the sector is likely to move rapidly towards many permanent closures of pharmacies. The organisations say that once these closures start, they will be hard to stop, as the sector is now so fragile other pharmacies would struggle to pick up the slack.

On the other hand, if the Secretary of State chooses to invest in community pharmacies, they can do much to deliver cost-effective solutions for patients and the NHS more widely. Andrew Lane, NPA chair, said: “I am delighted that the national pharmacy bodies in England have come together with the leaders of the largest corporate pharmacy contractors to write to the Secretary of State. Our members have been encouraging those key organisations to work together for the good of the whole sector.

"We are showing the Health Secretary that we are united in our determination to take the right route – one that unlocks the full potential of community pharmacy and helps support the NHS more widely.”

Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme

NPA members in Scotland who sell drinks in their pharmacies will be affected by the Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020. The regulations cover the production, import, marketing and sale of drinks packaged in single-use containers made from PET plastic, glass, steel or aluminium, and sized between 50ml and 3 litres. The regulations were due to be implemented in July 2022 but were delayed due to the Covid pandemic and now have a go-live date of 16 August 2023.

When businesses sell a drink in a single-use container, they will charge a 20p deposit, which the purchaser can get back when they return the empty container. It has been confirme by Scottish Government that initially only the largest grocery supermarkets will be obliged to provide a take-back service, phased in by 2025; and all other businesses will be exempt at this time. It is unlikely that pharmacies will be required to offer a return scheme. However, the NPA intends to lobby the position that pharmacies must be exempt due to restricted space and clinical hygiene issues. Read more about the regulations at:

Pharmacy apprenticeships

The NPA has partnered with apprenticeship training provider Skills 4 Pharmacy to help initiate and develop the careers of pharmacy support staff and technicians. They also manage the recruitment of apprentices, as well as their enrolment and training.

What courses are available?

Level 2 Apprenticeship – Pharmacy support worker A GPhC accredited training course that lasts 12 months + 3 months for end point assessment, perfect if you need a skilled member of staff to work on the medicines counter and in the dispensary. Level 3 Apprenticeship – Pharmacy technician Learners will be enrolled on the Level 3 Diploma in the Principles and Practice for Pharmacy Technicians, which meets the GPhC education requirement to register as a pharmacy technician. The course duration is 24 months + 3 months for end point assessment.

This is a fantastic opportunity to change your working model and give a team member more responsibility. If you need support with accuracy checking, students will become a qualified accuracy checking technician (ACT) as part of this course.

What’s in it for you?

• You can up-skill a current member of staff at minimal cost – this not only increases productivity but provides them with developmental opportunities and increases the likelihood of them staying with your pharmacy

• Managed recruitment and shortlisting by Skills 4 Pharmacy, if required

• Fully funded tuition and assessment for the apprenticeship either via the Apprenticeship Levy or a Levy Donor (partly funded if non-levy)

• A dedicated point of contact and support throughout the whole apprenticeship by a trusted and experienced pharmacy apprenticeship training provider

• Your apprentice becomes highly skilled even before they finish their course and you can train them in a way to suit the ever changing needs of your pharmacy. Plus you may be eligible for:

• £1,000 per apprentice in cash incentives from the government if the apprentice is under 19 years old.

• No Employer’s National Insurance liability for any apprentice up to the age of 25 earning less than £50k pa. Louise Baglole, director of professional services and development, said: “In the short time that we have been working with Skills 4 Pharmacy, the new apprenticeships have proved popular with our members. Over 60 members have already registered an interest in a pharmacy apprenticeship and by the end of January we expect at least 15 Level 2 and 3 apprentices to have started their learning programmes, which is a positive start to 2023.”

You can find out more about these apprenticeships, download the Skills 4 Pharmacy brochure which includes course costs and see how to apply, by visiting: levels- 2-and-3

Road safety keeping safe behind the wheel

It’s estimated that around one third of all road fatalities and one fifth of all road casualties involve someone who is driving for work or commuting. To put this into perspective, this means that more deaths occur from at-work road trips than in the workplace. In fact, the Health & Safety Executive suggests that work-related road traffic accidents may account for over 20 fatalities and 250 serious injuries every week. “Driving for work is one of the most dangerous things workers will do,” it says.

So what can employers do to reduce road-related accidents?

The following suggestions, provided by employment law experts Worknest, are just some of the practical ways businesses can meet their health and safety duties when it comes to occupational driving.

Don’t forget your grey fleet drivers

Employers often forget so-called ‘grey fleet’ drivers – those using privately-owned vehicles for work-related journeys. Employers still need to exercise responsibility for the health and safety of these workers when they are behind the wheel. That’s because if a vehicle is being driven on a work-related journey, then the employer is legally responsible for the driver’s health and safety, irrespective of who owns the vehicle. There are concerns that too many companies have been far too casual about their grey fleet. In fact, almost 90 per cent don’t include these owner-drivers in their driver policy communications.

RoadSmart director Tony Greenidge says: “The penny hasn’t dropped for many organisations that their responsibility for a ‘grey fleet’ driver is exactly the same as for a company car driver.” He adds: “If companies are expecting their employees to use their own vehicles for business journeys, they must ensure they are doing so safely and with appropriate guidelines, if they are to stay within the law.”

For example, while employers aren’t generally responsible for the safety of staff during their daily commute, if employees will be expected to travel to multiple offic or locations as part of their role, they will be considered to be driving for work purposes. If this is the case, the provisions of the HSWA will apply and you may also be held ‘vicariously liable’ for the employee’s actions. As such, you may need to review your driving to work policy (more below) and consider implementing suitable safety precautions, including:

• Making sure they are insured

• Making sure they have a valid driving licence

• Checking MOT certificates and service history

• Providing driving safety information in regard to mobile phone use

• Confirming that they are safe to drive. This could include , for example, making sure that they don’t drive after a night shift without proper rest, and that there are no other factors that could compromise their ability to drive such as a medical condition.

Address sources of distraction

Every day, more than 150 vehicles driven on company business in Britain are involved in a crash. These accidents result in more than 14,000 deaths or serious injuries annually. While there are many reasons for a crash and each has its own circumstances, according to Department of Transport figures “failed to look properly” tops the list for the most frequently reported contributory factors – cited in 35.7 per cent of all crashes. According to road safety experts, drivers face three types of distraction:

• Manual – looking or reaching around for lost objects in vehicles.

• Cognitive – drivers being lost in thought and not paying full attention.

• Visual – anything that makes drivers takes their eyes off the road, such as looking at a satellite navigation system or searching for a song on an iPod. The recent tightening of legislation in this area, particularly regarding the use of mobile phones, should go some way to driving down the figures.

However, employers can play their part by reminding employees of the dangers of distraction and reiterating the need to remain focused behind the wheel. Consider providing company wide training on driving safety. Our health and safety partners, WorkNest, offer an eLearning course which covers driving awareness, pre-journey checks and safety on the road. Access the course for free here: The NPA has a range of services and business partners that can help your pharmacy ensure its drivers are safe on the roads. Find out more at:

Medication Safety Officer report Q3 2022

The latest medication safety update, presenting the NPA’s analysis of patient safety incidents reported during the third quarter of 2022, is below. Access the full report at: This is a summary of key findings from analysis of patient safety incidents reported during Q3 2022

• Overall, there was a 10 per cent decrease in the number of incidents reported during Q3 2022, compared to Q2 2022.

• 95 per cent of incidents reported originated from the pharmacy

• 2 per cent of errors reported were prescribing errors

• The most common type of incident reported during Q3 was ‘dispensing error’, which accounted for 76 per cent of all reported incidents

• Delivery/collection errors accounted for 14 per cent of the incidents reported, which is a 6 per cent increase compared to Q2 2022

• The main categories of errors reported were those involving medication errors such as wrong drug/medicine, strength or formulation. These accounted for 64 per cent of errors reported - a 7 per cent decrease from Q2 2022

• The degree of harm caused to patients reported as ‘none’ (60 per cent) and ‘near miss’ (23 per cent) continues to make up the majority of the reports.

• 6 per cent of incidents involved self checking

• The main contributing factor continues to be ‘work and environment factors’ (47 per cent) and LASA (12 per cent).

• LASA errors — 7 per cent of LASA errors involved gabapentin and pregabalin.

Contact the NPA Medication Safety Officer (MSO)

NPA members

Independent community pharmacies in England who are NPA members can contact the NPA MSO through the Pharmacy Services Team at the NPA for further information, advice and/or support on any patient safety or pharmacy topic/matter. Email:


Independent community pharmacies in England with fewer than 50 branches who are currently not members of the NPA can contact the MSO by email at

• Include your pharmacy name, ODS code, name of the owner/superintendent pharmacist and telephone/mobile number, and pharmacy’s NHSmail email address.

• State ‘Non-member MSO query’ in the subject field.

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