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RPS annual general meeting 2017: welcome to Paul Bennett and news from the boards

The 2017 AGM saw the introduction of Paul Bennett, the new chief executive of the RPS, and a tribute to Professor Peter Noyce.

Paul Bennett, new chief executive of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS)

Courtesy of Paul Bennett

Paul Bennett, chief executive of the RPS, said he was “coming in listening”

Speaking at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) 2017 annual general meeting, new chief executive Paul Bennett highlighted the need for pharmacists to have a “strong leadership organisation that can stand up and say difficult things”.

Bennett, who took up his post on 3 July 2017, was introduced by Martin Astbury, president of the RPS, who said that, as the Society, “we have bagged ourselves an exceptional leader in pharmacy”. In his address, Bennett said he was “coming in listening”, adding that the profession had experienced “a difficult few years — we must empathise, stand up and recognise that”.

Working in partnership to develop commercial and advocacy opportunities was “critical”, he added. Bennett concluded his address by remarking that he was looking forward to meeting and connecting with members.

Astbury also commended Alex MacKinnon, outgoing interim chief executive soon to resume his post as director for Scotland, saying that MacKinnon had been a “joy to work with”. For his part, MacKinnon said in his address: “I commit today to support Paul as director, so we move forward and go where we need to go.”

Strengthen the position of science and research

MacKinnon then summarised some of the work done during the previous year, including the continued push for decriminalisation of dispensing errors. This matter was on the way through Parliament when the general election was called but, said MacKinnon, the issue is expected to be resumed. The RPS is “regularly asked to inform parliamentary inquiries” and in further examples of policy influence, he noted that RPS Scotland’s manifesto had pushed pharmacy onto the agenda of all key political parties while, in Wales, Steps to Better Health and Wellbeing had also got pharmacy into key party manifestos. In England, MacKinnon offered “real credit” to the RPS and Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) for their work on securing funding for pharmacists in GP surgeries.

Alex MacKinnon, outgoing interim chief executive of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS)

Source: Royal Pharmaceutical Society 

Alex MacKinnon, outgoing Royal Pharmaceutical Society interim chief executive, offered “real credit” to the RPS and Royal College of General Practitioners for their work on securing funding for pharmacists in GP surgeries

However, he also warned that the Society “must get much better at celebrating how much we have achieved over the last six years”. New communications and public relations processes are in place, he said, and he called for everyone who is part of the organisation to work to “get this bit right once and for all.” He also argued that it is “vital that we continue to strengthen the position of science and research in the Society, and build the evidence base to support our advocacy work.”

Updates from the three nations

The chairs of the English, Scottish and Welsh boards provided their own updates. Sandra Gidley, chair of the English Pharmacy Board, said that the Society’s campaign on long-term conditions, launched in the Houses of Parliament, had secured £2.5m funding to allow pharmacists supporting people with long-term conditions to obtain clinical diplomas. Gidley said that a priority for the next year is to “re-engage and re-invigorate local practice forums”. John McAnaw, chair of the Scottish Pharmacy Board, highlighted the Quality Roadshows held across Scotland, in partnership with bodies including NHS Education for Scotland, Healthcare Improvement Scotland and Community Pharmacy Scotland. These, he said, “raise awareness of and commitment to quality in Scotland — dispensing errors, learning from near misses and what quality improvement methods we can use routinely to improve things”. In 2017, we will see the launch of an Innovators Forum among many activities.

Suzanne Scott-Thomas, Chair, Welsh Pharmacy Board of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS)

Source: Royal Pharmaceutical Society 

The chairs of the three national boards, including Suzanne Scott-Thomas, chair of the Welsh board, presented the highlights of board activity over the last year

Among items from Suzanne Scott-Thomas, joining by video link from RPS Wales’ Cardiff office, was the success of the Medicines Safety Conference which, said Scott-Thomas, had “led the agenda in Wales for several years”. The 2016 conference featured presentations from Vaughn Gething, cabinet secretary for health, wellbeing and sport; Chris Ham, chief executive of the King’s Fund, and Donald Berwick, former president emeritus and senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). During the next year, RPS Wales will be working, alongside other matters, with the Welsh government on workface planning.

BNF used 1 million times every week  

Simon Redman, director of finance and resources at the RPS, announced that the Society’s revenue increased 7% in 2016, to £22.2m, and membership had grown by 2% — the third year in a row in which growth has been observed. There has been £1m of growth in digital publishing in 2016, and licensing sales have risen by 50% since 2012. The Society’s total assets — including the London headquarters, museum and library, and the Welsh office — now stand at £31.5m. The British National Formulary (BNF) was, Redman said, estimated to be used 1 million times each week, while The Pharmaceutical Journal website saw more than 285,000 unique visitors per month in 2017, with 14,000 people now subscribed to the daily news alert.

Simon Redman, director of finance and resources at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS)

Source: MAG / The Pharmaceutical Journal

Membership has grown for the third year in a row, reported Simon Redman, director of finance and resources at the RPS

In news from the communications team, it was announced that spokespeople from the RPS were quoted, on average, twice a week in national or regional print media and appeared every three days on national and regional radio.

Tribute to Peter Noyce

Martin Astbury spoke of the Society’s sadness at the death of Professor Peter Noyce, whose funeral was held on the day of the AGM. Astbury said that Noyce — who was made a Fellow of the RPS in 1994 — was “recognised nationally with the highest award the RPS can give: the Lifetime Achievement award”, conferred on Noyce in 2012. Astbury said the Society’s thoughts were with Noyce’s family and friends.

Asbury also offered, on behalf of the profession, congratulations to Doug Simpson, former editor of The Pharmaceutical Journal, who received an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours for services to pharmaceutical journalism.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203091

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Supplementary images

  • Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) stacked logo
  • Paul Bennett, new chief executive of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS)
  • Alex MacKinnon, outgoing interim chief executive of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS)
  • Suzanne Scott-Thomas, Chair, Welsh Pharmacy Board of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS)
  • Simon Redman, director of finance and resources at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS)

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