Chief pharmaceutical officer of England ought to be congratulated

From Graham Phillips’s letter about his attendance at the ‘Quality for patients: pharmacy practice now and in the future’ conference (

The Pharmaceutical Journal
2017;298:234), I thought he was going to report on the conference but all he offered was a rant at the chief pharmaceutical officer (CPO) for England for, in his view, inadequate praise of community pharmacy.

The CPO for England is well able to defend himself and I note The Pharmaceutical Journal offered Keith Ridge the opportunity but civil servants rightly avoid public professional spats and are limited in what they can and cannot say publicly, particularly at general election time.

It is easy to offer criticism but this should be professional, constructive and courteous, particularly in such challenging and turbulent times. Disappointingly, Phillips failed to offer any evidence of widespread successes in community pharmacy that sit well with the title of this conference, only criticism of (and some rudeness towards) the CPO. I was under the impression that unprofessional behaviour towards or about a colleague was at best frowned upon by our profession. Phillips’s letter certainly skirts with this.

I would draw readers attention to another letter published recently (
The Pharmaceutical Journal online, 11 April 2017
). This talks of collaboration to achieve cross sector success and highlights the achievement of the CPO in raising the profile of the medicines agenda in NHS England’s ‘Five year forward view’ (the same applies to a number of other NHS England and Department of Health documents).

No one should underestimate the difficulty in getting such profile in government documents against many competing NHS priorities and we should celebrate the resulting opportunity for pharmacy. The scale of pharmacist posts announced for employment in GP surgeries is such an example and is as much a wake up to our profession to get involved in clinical activity as it was to the GP community and public of the role our profession can offer.

The CPO should therefore be congratulated for his successes in the current hostile NHS financial climate and we should be looking forward not backwards. We as members of our profession should be seizing and exploiting the opportunities before us and be shouting about them, not involving ourselves in backstabbing our professional leaders who have fought and succeeded in getting these opportunities for us. Time to be more professional and collaborative I think.

Ron G Pate


West Midlands

Declaration of interest: Ron Pate has undertaken consultancy work for the Department of Health and chief pharmaceutical officer for England with respect to specialist pharmacy services in 2013 and rebalancing legislation in 2014.


The declaration of interest of added retrospectively on 1 June 2017 — Editor.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, May, Vol 298, No 7901;298(7901):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20202769

You may also be interested in