RPS elections 2021: board members explain why members should stand

Nominations for the 2021 Royal Pharmaceutical Society national pharmacy board elections opened on 11 March 2021 and close on 1 April. The Pharmaceutical Journal asked six board members why they stood for election, and why other members should consider doing the same.

Duncan Petty, English Pharmacy Board

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) is very important for the development of the pharmacy profession. I stood for election in 2019 because I wanted to help shape the future, which I believe is one where the profession is more clinically focused.

I have a lot of years since qualification under my belt (I’m old!) and believe I have experience that the RPS and its members can benefit from.  However, you don’t need to be old to stand for election. In fact, I believe we would be well served by more young members standing for election, and those from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, as the RPS membership needs better representation for younger pharmacists who are trying to develop their career.

Working with the RPS staff and fellow board members has been a hugely rewarding experience. You will learn lots and gain a great deal of insight into how healthcare and pharmacy are developing. As a minimum, you are expected to attend board meetings, but you can do a lot more by working with RPS staff to provide insight and advice on consultations the RPS has been asked to comment on, and by contributing to the organisation’s strategy work.

If you think you can contribute to the development of the profession, I would strongly recommend standing for election.

Sibby Buckle, English Pharmacy Board

Our profession continues to be undervalued and under-recognised by our legislators. During this pandemic, the RPS has had to fight for pharmacists to be officially recognised as key workers and included in key worker benefits and vaccination programmes. The fight continues to make sure pharmacy is truly integrated, alongside other healthcare professions, into healthcare IT systems and the emerging Integrated Care Systems, with full read and write access to patient records.

If I could sum up in three words what is required of a board member, I would cite these characteristics: passion, pragmatism and persistence. My manifesto for pharmacy includes patient record sharing, decriminalising single dispensing errors and raising the profile of pharmacists with politicians and those in the medical profession. Those are well on the way to being achieved, but only because I was actively involved in the English Pharmacy Board.

With the RPS representing the whole profession — industry, academia, hospital, general practice pharmacy and community pharmacy — whichever sector you’re in, you too can make a difference nationally. As the third largest healthcare profession, we need our voice to be heard — richer, louder and more powerful than ever before.

So if you have a passion for change to help take the profession forwards and give something back, then please stand for election!

Jamie Hayes, Welsh Pharmacy Board

I’ve been a member of the RPS for 30 years. I stood for election to the Welsh Pharmacy Board because I realised that I had the skills and enthusiasm to help the RPS with its role in improving and developing the profession for the pharmacists it serves.

It takes courage to put your name up for any election. I remember thinking: “I’ll just get this project sorted or that qualification finished, then I’ll stand next year or the year after”. In 2016, I finally got involved and was fortunate to receive enough votes to take my place on the board. It was an immediate eye-opener to see the breadth and depth of the work RPS was doing on behalf of pharmacists and the profession: from leadership and policy, to diversity and wellbeing and, of course, the safe and effective use of medicines.

If you are elected, you will notice the impact immediately. Your networks will increase almost overnight, as you meet high-calibre pharmacists with a shared goal. So too will your opportunity to influence and contribute to the medicines and pharmacy agenda on an international scale. I wish I had got involved so much earlier.

For the younger pharmacists who may be reading this, my message is simple. Don’t wait to inspire people: put yourself in the frame now. If you’re qualified, you’re ready to stand for the RPS national pharmacy board elections.

Sudhir Sehrawat, Welsh Pharmacy Board

As a practising community pharmacist, I joined the Welsh Pharmacy Board four years ago. Admittedly, I did not know what I was getting into, but I did know I was passionate about pharmacy.  This was an opportunity to influence policies that would impact on the profession as well as setting the direction of travel for the profession.

The board comprises pharmacy colleagues from various backgrounds, with a wealth of knowledge and expertise. From a self-development point of view, understanding the wider issues and the challenges faced in all sectors of pharmacy has broadened my thinking and outlook on pharmacy too.

We have seen many positive changes in pharmacy in Wales. The RPS has been at the forefront of engaging with stakeholders, being involved with developing key policies and publications, and being respected by other healthcare professional organisations. Being part of this team is very rewarding and knowing my views and opinions have shaped this change is very self-satisfying. If you want to share your expertise and be part of a team with a ‘can do’ attitude, then there’s no better time to consider becoming a board member.

Kathleen Cowle, Scottish Pharmacy Board

I put myself forward for election for two reasons:

  1. I wanted to be part of a forum that could protect and promote my profession. Initially, the community pharmacy workforce was a huge concern for me, and I wanted to see if I could raise the profile of the issue and influence the decisions around it.
  2. To challenge myself to do more than question the role of the RPS from the sidelines: to get involved and see it as my responsibility as much as anyone else.

Being on the board has given me the chance to share my views and concerns, and to influence both the strategy and policy decisions of the RPS.  I have learned to listen and empathise, and promote the work of those with whom I share the title of pharmacist.

We need a diverse board to learn from each other and to represent the diversity of both the profession and the people within it, and I would encourage everyone to get involved with the RPS. We can all bring valuable experience to help shape our future. There are very few positive things that can be said about the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic but, in my view, it is undeniable that pharmacy is now truly recognised as an integral part of the NHS.

Now is a very exciting time to get involved: just bring yourself.

Brian Addison, Scottish Pharmacy Board

I was elected to the Scottish Pharmacy Board in 2019. This was the first time that I have ever stood for election and I decided to stand because I felt it was (and still is) important that the national boards have diverse representation.

Working with RPS staff and other board members from across the UK is a privilege, and I learn as much as I contribute. As the role of pharmacy in healthcare continues to evolve, it is important that there are strong new voices from all areas of practice represented on the national boards.

The profession needs a strong and robust professional leadership body to ensure that the professional standing of pharmacy is maintained and enhanced in the rapidly changing environment we are now living in. As a board member, I play my part in guiding and influencing the direction of pharmacy policy at all levels. By listening to members and stakeholders, the national boards help shape the future of the profession.

The RPS, through the national boards, can only continue to provide strong professional leadership if the boards are truly representative of the membership. If you think you can contribute to this then I urge you to stand for election as a board member.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, March 2021, Vol 306, No 7947;306(7947)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.72989

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