Creating a royal college of pharmacists

A “Royal College of Pharmacists” must be the body created from the transformation of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. The majority of pharmacists will concur, as this aligns the name of our future royal college with surgeons, pathologists, physicians, anaesthetists, psychiatrists, general practitioners, etc. Any name with pharmacy is best avoided since this implies that a company could be a member. Pharmacies are represented by organisations such as the National Pharmacy Association, the Company Chemists’ Association, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, Community Pharmacy Wales, Community Pharmacy Scotland, etc, and representation of companies is not envisaged within the scope of the royal college.

Steve Maddern asked why I exclude technicians (PJ, 17 March, p297). Regulating technicians will be passed to the General Pharmaceutical Council by the Act, which will result from the recent White Paper. From that moment, the Society will have no role in regulating technicians so the current connection will end. Technician involvement in the Society, such as the two members of Council, is by virtue of the Society’s regulatory role, which the Government will terminate. I hope that a pharmacy technician will be appointed to the governing body of the GPC when it is formed and that the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK is seen as the technicians’ representative body.

To satisfy the Society’s Privy Council requirements when we transform the Society into the “Royal College of Pharmacists”, we must preserve a high entry level and ensure on-going standards in both educational and professional terms. Entry must continue to require a master’s degree in pharmacy, postgraduate training and a final examination for all new members. For the royal college’s professionally active members, the standard will definitely entail continued professional development and periodic revalidation.

To avoid any doubt, someone with a National Vocational Qualification does not satisfy the Privy Council’s educational criterion for membership of an organisation applying for a Royal Charter. Please let us move on from discussing technician membership of our proposed royal college.

Creating a vision for a “Royal College of Pharmacists” should be the first step in any metamorphosis and a vision must be elucidated before we discuss function and structure. The PJ suggested that “the Council and the profession should ask what they want a professional leadership body to do.” (17 March, p296) but this is a latter step on the transformation path. The Waterloo group (PJ, 31 March, p357) just produced a wish list. Without a clear vision many fruitless discussions on function and structure will occur. That is why complex organisations usually have a vision statement, which on the surface may appear blindingly obvious to people within the organisation. However, the vision statement should promote a common sense of purpose and direction. Sandra Gidley (PJ, 31 March, p364) shares her advocate vision for the royal college. I do hope that advocacy will be part of the agreed vision statement for a “Royal College of Pharmacists”. However, many more visionary inputs are needed before our vision is defined.

I support A. J. Rodgers’s suggestion (PJ, 24 March, p342) that a website be created for members to discuss the transformation of the Society. Nothing fancy is required. A simple crosscheck on membership would allow members to post their opinions, without the time and space restraints of the PJ. Would someone in Lambeth please own this and make it happen in the coming days?

Mark Walker, Oxford

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, April 2007;()::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2023.1.171152

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