Since it was announced at the May meeting of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) this week, the resignation of chief executive Sue Sharpe by the end of 2017 has raised several questions.
Sharpe, who took up the post in 2001, has been praised by many of the sector's leaders for her efforts to advocate for pharmacy during the implementation of the recent cuts.
The Pharmacist has approached PSNC for comment.
1. Why has Sharpe chosen to resign now?
Neither Sharpe nor the PSNC have so far given any indication as to why she has chosen 2017 as her year to retire, or why she chose this week to announce it.
With the fate of negotiator's judicial review against Government cuts to English community pharmacy funding still undecided and the prospect of another cuts battle looming overhead, this could be a difficult time for pharmacy negotiations. Could the PSNC be left without its lead negotiator during its greatest fight yet?
2. How will this affect the current cuts negotiations?
In a statement released after her resignation announcement, Sharpe said that when she first decided to announce her departure, she had thought that the result of the judicial review would have been returned by now.
However, almost two months after the case was heard, we've yet to hear the outcome. Without knowing either the eventual decision on the cuts or who is going to replace Sharpe, it is impossible to speculate how her resignation with affect the negotiations and if her replacement will battle as hard for the sector as she has done.
3. Will this affect how the PSNC fights the next funding settlement?
A strong chief executive will be key to the PSNC's ability to stand up for community pharmacy, especially if their judicial review case is rejected or if another damaging funding package is proposed by the Government.
It will be essential that the negotiating committee is not left without a voice during the transition between Sharpe and whoever takes over the role in the coming months.
4. Who will Sharpe's successor be?
No candidates have been announced as of yet. Acording to PSNC chair Mike Pitt, the negotiator 'has already begun to consider the recruitment process for a replacement CEO, but it will of course take time to ensure that we appoint the right person.'
5. How will Sharpe's role change during this time of transition before she retires?
It will be important for pharmacists to know if Sharpe will work as normal or take a back seat as PSNC's leader as she hands over to someone else.
If her successor is announced before the end of the year when she departs from her role, then they will need to start actively advocating for the sector straight away. One thing's for certain; there is no time for rest at this turing point for English pharmacy.