Campaign letter for RPS elections 2021: Martin Astbury on grassroots pharmacists need to be heard

This is a campaign letter for the 2021 RPS national pharmacy board elections. The views expressed in this letter belong to the author. Find out more about the RPS elections.

The need for strong and bold leadership is greater now than ever before, especially as the majority of pharmacists now practice as either employees or locums.
It is these grassroots pharmacists who are bearing the brunt of the pressures that face pharmacy today. The workload pressures, the imposition of targets and ever-increasing regulatory burden has led to many pharmacists feeling frustrated and disenfranchised.
The voices of employees working in academia, community, hospital and primary care, locums and smaller contractors (i.e. frontline pharmacists), need to be heard so that our collective interests — which I believe are also ultimately in the public interest — are not ignored.
Some of the pressing issues confronting frontline pharmacists are:

  1. Ensuring that the environment in which we work is safe, particularly in these pandemic times.
  2. Ensuring that workload levels are set at realistic levels and that extra workloads are fairly and properly resourced.
  3. Ensuring that pharmacists are ever-present whenever the pharmacy is open — somewhere within the community pharmacy or hospital.
  4. Minimum standards and levels of support staff, so that all are on a level playing field and all pharmacists are adequately supported.
  5. Following the explosion of new universities, more than 3,500 pharmacists are graduating each year (compared with 1,625 graduates in 2008). This is unfair on the graduates and registered pharmacists alike.
  6. Pharmacist unemployment is a real danger. If we end up with more pharmacists than jobs, the large employers will pay us as little as they can get away with. If you have a professional disagreement with an employer, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain professional integrity when you know you can be replaced by someone who will play ball.

The next few years are critical in the development of our profession and the accessibility of the public to their pharmacist. Only frontline practising pharmacists can appreciate the value placed by patients (especially the elderly) on the easy accessibility and advice of pharmacists. This is the human face of healthcare that is increasingly being marginalised and then crushed by those that have little time, experience or empathy for frontline patient-facing practitioners.

More than at any other time in our profession’s history, all RPS Members need to exercise their voting rights in the board elections. We must ensure that pharmacists who work on the frontline, experiencing the current trials and tribulations, are elected to the boards.

Martin Astbury, election candidate, English pharmacy board, Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, Campaign letter for RPS elections 2021: Martin Astbury on grassroots pharmacists need to be heard;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.79285

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