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.
It is now a little over 10 years since the creation of the RPS as the professional leadership body for pharmacists, after the regulatory responsibilities of the RPSGB were transferred to the General Pharmaceutical Council. The objectives of the new RPS included promotion of the interests of pharmacists in exercising their profession, and advancement of knowledge and education in pharmacy.
So, how well has the RPS managed the transformation? I think most members will agree that significant strides have been made in promoting education and training. The development of practice frameworks to support and accredit career development, resources supporting pharmacist independent prescribing practice and consultant pharmacist credentialling, alongside other learning resources, 24/7 e-library access and events/training programmes are tangible benefits. The RPS has also had successes in lobbying government on pharmacists’ behalf; for example, ensuring pharmacists were added to professions able to become non-medical prescribers.
However, the RPS cannot claim to have done so well in achieving the other objective, the promotion of the interests of pharmacists in exercising their profession, when there are still significant numbers of pharmacists who choose not to become members. A body with claims to be a professional leadership body, which can speak for all its members, is diminished if many of those in the profession choose not to join, and the RPS must actively and respectfully seek to engage with these pharmacists to understand why they make that choice and what would make them reconsider. An ad-hoc discussion on Twitter elicited comments from pharmacists across all areas of practice that they didn’t believe the RPS were aware of their issues; didn’t believe the RPS supported them; felt the RPS should be working more collaboratively with other pharmacy groups; felt that they got more value from multi-professional specialist groups aligned to their clinical practice; and that they personally wouldn’t gain from membership. Others made the point that the cost of membership when added to other costs they had made it unaffordable.
I believe the RPS Board made a mistake when abolishing the sectoral places and would like to see them restored; however, good policy is not made by one person’s assumptions, and if elected to the EPB I would actively promote a properly constituted stakeholder engagement open to all pharmacists, with the aim of creating a membership offer which was seen as valuable to all pharmacists.
Mary Evans, election candidate, English Pharmacy Board, Royal Pharmaceutical Society