The Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) has widened its membership to all independent pharmacies and has changed its name to the Independent Pharmacies Association (IPA) with immediate effect.

The IPA will ‘provide a clearer identity and afford a strong voice to the thousands of independent pharmacies in England and Wales’, it said in a statement today.

Previously, the organisation was open to independent pharmacy groups with two or more branches.

IPA chair David Vanns highlighted the unique business needs of independent brick and mortar contractors, compared to large multiple pharmacy chains, and said: ‘Supplying NHS prescriptions, and services and treatments via the new NHS Pharmacy First scheme, is [independent pharmacies’] priority.’

And he said the IPA would ‘press the cause of all independents and ensure they are properly represented' to all external stakeholders and decision makers. 

‘We are here for our customers, our patients, and we’re always happy to work closely with the NHS to relieve pressure in other areas, but it is only right that we are treated with respect and that we are paid accordingly. From now on, the IPA will be making certain that is the case,’ he added.

A recent survey by the organisation suggested that for the majority of contractors, less than half of Pharmacy First consultations pass the gateway point for a service payment.

A majority of respondents said they were spending an average of 20 minutes or more on each consultation, and some 60% said meeting the increased minimum threshold from May would be a ‘struggle’ and 19% said it would be ‘unachievable’.