I am writing to make known my intention to close my consultancy, Wingfield Works, and leave active pharmacy practice at the end of 2017.
I am delighted to see that the legislation offering defences to strict criminal liability for hapless community pharmacists making an honest mistake in dispensing might just materialise before I properly retire. I was beginning to think it might not happen before I die! It’s only taken 17 years; the Crown Prosecution Service ‘discovered’ the Section 64 offence with the peppermint water case of 2000. Before then, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS; then known as the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain) quite correctly never considered invoking it in circumstances for which it was never intended.
For the last 10 years, post-‘official’-retirement, I have enjoyed the challenge of engaging with clients both within and outside of pharmacy to teach, explore and occasionally clarify matters of law and ethics applied to pharmacy practice. I want to say ‘thank you’ to all the many colleagues and supporters who have made my time in pharmacy so rewarding, and encourage others to consider combining law and pharmacy studies as a great niche for a fulfilling — and profitable — career option. I do not envy my community colleagues who seem to be continually and woefully undervalued by officialdom and politicians and can only hope that this will improve.
For now, I remain in my honorary chair at the University of Nottingham; I shall stay as a retired member of the RPS (only £73 per annum, a bargain!); and I shall continue to support the activities of the Pharmacy Law and Ethics Association (PLEA), which I founded some 20 years ago. Several members of PLEA are taking over the law and ethics textbooks and the academic specialisms that I have championed, and I look forward to letting others take the strain. Pharmacy is a great profession and I am grateful to have been part of it.
Honorary Professor of Pharmacy Law and Ethics
University of Nottingham