In her report for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) ‘Now or never: shaping pharmacy for the future’, Judith Smith depicted a profession that, despite its size and wealth, remained in the third division of healthcare professions — i.e. constantly underachieving and mostly ignored. She said the profession needed bold action from the RPS to get pharmacy and pharmacists on the lips of commissioners and health policy organisations.
Before and on becoming chairman of the English Pharmacy Board, I was repeatedly told I had to be bold in the leadership of the profession. Bold we have been and what a difference it has made. Suddenly it seems like we are in the premier division. We are being listened to. Major healthcare players want us as a key part of their plans. We have so much to offer with our knowledge of medicines.
So being bold has got us into the premier division and now we have to stay there. We currently have three campaigns on the agenda: pharmacist access to patient health records; pharmacists improving patient outcomes in care homes; and pharmacist-led care of people with long-term conditions. If these become successful, the public and commissioners of healthcare will be hearing a lot from the RPS. These campaigns are generating opportunities for pharmacists across all sectors but the biggest gains will be if the sectors start to work together as one profession.
I am doing my best for the 14,500 pharmacy students and our members by creating a huge appetite for pharmacists as the people who can sort out medicines. The future is no longer unemployment for graduates but interesting clinical jobs.
However, I can only do so much for the demand side of pharmacy, we also need to tackle supply. Once the general election is over, we can revisit the student numbers issue with a new administration. We need to be bold in addressing this issue and we need to do it together.
Do members like a professional body that is bold? Do members want us to stay in the premier division of healthcare? I hope so. If their answer is “yes”, then please vote in these RPS elections and vote for me.
English Pharmacy Board
Royal Pharmaceutical Society