This month saw the submission of several important consultation responses and the co-creation of guidance in advance of some important developments that will directly affect our members, which got me thinking about the topic for my first ever CCA blog… policy.
But what does policy even mean? At the CCA, we generally use the term ‘policy’ to refer to political, regulatory and legislative frameworks or proposals that affect or could affect our members. And as a trade body, it’s our job to positively influence these.
Policy analysis, development and positioning can all sound a bit drab and dreary to those involved in the bright lights of communications and public affairs, but in reality, these two areas of work go absolutely hand in hand. What would my External Relations Group colleagues shout about if it weren’t for the behind-the-scenes scrutiny, evidence gathering and in-depth analysis of the potential impact that policy proposals will have on our members and their patients? Probably quite a lot to be honest(!), but it is the outputs of our policy engine room that help us get, and maintain, our seat at the right tables.
At the CCA, a method that we regularly use to engage with policy-makers is responding to their public or stakeholder consultations. Consultation responses allow us to present our position on policy proposals, regulatory change or other matters as part of a formal process of engagement. In an ideal world, our contributions would then be reflected in the relevant policy, regulation and/or legislation, but in reality, this sometimes requires a bit of follow up!
Coordinating responses on behalf of some of the biggest names in the business requires regular contact with our members, usually via our relevant working groups, which all have expert representation on topics spanning from professional practice to patient safety and external relations.
Some of these working groups are also cross-sector, such as the Community Pharmacy Workforce Development Group, which has equal representation and very valuable contribution from CCA, AIM and NPA colleagues. In fact, since the closure of Pharmacy Voice, we’ve still been working collaboratively on many areas of common agreement, catching up regularly and aligning our submissions to stakeholders on behalf of all pharmacy owners – bet you weren’t expecting that!
Our most recent joint submission was to Health Education England’s draft workforce strategy. In our joint response we highlighted that the draft strategy didn’t put forward proposals for workforce development which we believed would help to realise the full potential of community pharmacy teams. We’ve shared our submission directly with those leading this work and look forward to seeing how our comments are taken on board in the final strategy.
It’s probably fair to say that sometimes representing our members’ interests, in terms of influencing policy makers, can fly under the radar, especially when this influence actually prevents policy change that we feel wouldn’t be beneficial for the sector, the NHS, our patients or the public. Hopefully with this new blog series though, we can keep colleagues and interested readers up to date with how the CCA is working to influence key stakeholders in the (ever-changing!) policy-making structures of the UK. Watch this space.
Kate Livesey, Policy & Programmes Manager