Vision, politics, pharmacy clubs, elitism, free services and where community pharmacy goes next


Ian Strachan is a community pharmacy owner contractor. He owns a number of pharmacies in England. He was the Chair of the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) between 2014 to 2018.


I have wanted to chat with Ian for a while now. He really has operated at the top of UK pharmacy politics for quite some time and has led the way with many innovative initiatives through his community pharmacies.


We had a wide-ranging and fascinating conversation about many aspects of community pharmacy.


Community pharmacy politics in England is a complicated and often turbulent arena. This came out in the chat but we offset these challenges with some positivity as we looked to the future. A fulfilling and attractive career pathway for pharmacists working in community pharmacy was important to both of us.


Ian is passionate about the profession and in particular, he cares deeply about the professionalisation of community pharmacy. We discussed what he thought the vision for the future of community pharmacy should be in the coming years and delved into some notable long-standing community pharmacy topics like free deliveries for example.


Ian is as enthusiastic an advocate for community pharmacy that I have spoken to for a while so it was fascinating to get his insight.




If you prefer to never miss an episode you can subscribe on your preferred podcast platform. Just click on the links below to get going.



AnchoriTunesGoogle PodcastsSpotifyBreakerOvercastPocketCastsRadio PublicPodbeanStitcher



NPA make formal submission to MPs on medicine supply regulations


In a formal submission to MPs, the National Pharmacy Association argues that changes to regulations on medicines supply should be subject to parliamentary scrutiny, including rules about hub and spoke dispensing.


The Medicines and Medical Devices Bill, currently being examined by the Public Bill Committee, will confer power to ministers to amend or supplement medicines law, without the need for primary legislation.


A bill of this kind is seen as necessary to facilitate the uninterrupted business of government following the UK’s exit from the European Union.


However, it also opens up the possibility of important changes to the rules around medicines supply taking place without sufficient parliamentary scrutiny and democratic accountability.


This includes regulatory changes to allow inter-company hub and spoke dispensing, where a pharmacy outsources elements of its dispensing to a third party.  The NPA has consistently warned that official claims about the benefits of inter-company hub & spoke are overblown and that it risks diminishing competition and choice in the pharmaceutical wholesale market without a level playing field. Other unintended consequences could be less resilience of the medicines supply system and rises in medicines prices.


NPA chief executive Mark Lyonette said:


“The changes relating to the safe supply of medicines that could be implemented using secondary legislation empowered under this Bill are significant. Big changes to the way that medicines are supplied to the public could be enacted without the need for further primary legislation.


“What matters to the people of this country should matter to our politicians – and people do care about the safe supply of medicines.  We want the provisions of this Bill to require both full consultations with stakeholders and sufficient parliamentary scrutiny.”


The Medicines and Medical Devices Bill will confer power to amend or supplement the law relating to human medicines, veterinary medicines and medical devices; and make provision about the enforcement of regulations. The Bill passed at second reading on the 2nd March 2020 and is now with the Public Bill Committee.


Following representations by the NPA, an amendment to the bill was laid last week, which if adopted would limit the power of ministers to amend or repeal provisions in an Act of Parliament using secondary legislation to two years, before requiring Parliamentary approval to extend them.



Mike Hewitson resigns from NPA board on a point of principle

Mike Hewitson

Mike Hewitson has resigned with immediate effect from the National Pharmacy Association board. Mr. Hewitson released the following public statement yesterday shortly after the NPA board meeting.


“With profound sadness and deep regret I must announce that I have resigned from the Board of Management at the National Pharmacy Association with immediate effect.


“Following the recent election of a vertically integrated wholesaler to the chairmanship of the NPA, I am no longer able to contribute to the leadership of the organisation on principle. At a time when NPA members face an existential battle for survival, made more difficult by the behaviour of wholesalers, large and small, this represents an insoluble conflict of interest.


“The NPA have surrendered moral leadership on the critical issue of price gouging by wholesalers, stock shortages and the precipitous decline of service levels by vertical integrated wholesalers.


“Never have the interests of the independent sector and wholesalers been so far apart. To ensure our continued survival as a profession we must move away from a contract which is based on prescription volume, and purchase margin, but this is in fundamental opposition to the needs and actions of wholesalers.”


Mr. Hewitson concluded by paying tribute to friends and colleagues on the board that he had worked with in the previous eight years of his tenure.


“It has been the greatest pleasure of my professional career to serve the interests of community pharmacy through the NPA. I am so sad to say goodbye to the many colleagues and friends I have made in my eight years on the board, and would like to pay tribute to their dedication and commitment on behalf of the sector.”


Mr. Nitin Sodha has replaced Ian Strachan as Chair of the National Pharmacy Association, following an NPA Board meeting held on Monday, 23rd. April. Mr. Nitin is Managing Director of Knights Chemists. He was first elected to the NPA Board in 2007 and has served as Vice Chair since 2014.