I hope colleagues will forgive my reference to the Theresa May rhetoric, but as a community pharmacist I have to ask, is the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) really working for me? It seems that the RPS is obsessed with the practice pharmacist initiative (which, I agree, is excellent) but the implementation to date has been to benefit the few (2,000 practice pharmacists) at the expense of the many (around 30,000 community pharmacists).
The RPS has a shiny new website and I searched the homepage in vain for any reference to the community pharmacy funding cuts, but all I could find was a somewhat self-congratulatory reference to practice pharmacists.
The media is currently full of NHS stories about nurses, patients and GPs (community pharmacy is scarcely mentioned) so I searched the @RPharms Twitter feed — again, in vain — for any recent mention of the cuts. I drew a blank.
Last week the RPS emailed me general election toolkit. This is a worthy document but fails to mention the elephant in the room (ie, pharmacy funding cuts).
Having been involved in the birth of the new RPS a few years ago, I passionately want to see it succeed, and I would like to see every pharmacist in membership (currently membership stands at around 50%). But that will only happen if it makes itself relevant to all sectors of our profession.
By contrast, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has skillfully crafted a narrative about the value of GPs and the underfunding of primary care. As a result, GPs will enjoy a guaranteed year-on-year increase in their funding over the next five years. To put it in perspective, their increase alone is greater than the entire global funding sum for community pharmacy. And yet the RPS has conspicuously failed to make the equivalent case for community pharmacy.
I am delighted to see 17 candidates standing for 5 places on the English Pharmacy Board this year, with plenty of new faces. This demonstrates increasing member engagement. So my challenge to the successful candidates and to the executive of the RPS is to follow the RCGP’s lead and bat much harder for community pharmacy.