As a former council member of the then RPSGB who fought against the arrogant, closed and unaccountable culture of the RPS’s predecessor body, and who was heavily involved in the creation of the current Society, it pains me greatly to see the organisation repeating the mistakes of the past.
Having read the president’s statement, I searched the RPS website in vain for publication of the background papers on which the Assembly based its decision not to pursue becoming a royal college. I assume that both the papers and the discussion were held in confidential business and are thus inaccessible to members.
To date, it seems that members’ concerns have been either ignored or obfuscated, which is precisely the approach taken by the (then) RPSGB back in 2003. In fact, so intransigent was the culture that it was only when the then chief pharmaceutical officers took a wrecking ball to the organisation that is was forced to change, leading to the demerger of the RPSGB and the creation of the successor bodies, the General Pharmaceutical Council and the RPS.
It was always the plan to create the RPS as a body akin to a royal college, with an intent to become the formally recognised royal college for the profession in due course. So, for this key strategic aim to be ditched without explanation or recourse to the membership beggars belief.
If none of the above has set off alarm bells at the RPS, then the recent announcement on 13 May 2022 by the four current chief pharmaceutical officers of their intention to initiate a review of professional leadership for pharmacy — which, among other aims, would be “to produce a blueprint for the purpose and functions of a pharmacy professional leadership body to best develop, support and deliver excellence in patient care and professional practice” — surely must?
As a hitherto passionate supporter of the RPS (who was closely involved in its naissance), I am clear that the last thing our profession needs right now is an extended period of navel gazing followed by the creation of yet another representative body.
The decision to abandon the pursuit of royal college status and to shed pivotal members of the RPS staff must be shelved. The members (including the four chief pharmaceutical officers) must be fully briefed and consulted and, finally, any decision must be put to a democratic vote.
Graham Phillips, St Albans, Hertfordshire
Paul Bennett, chief executive officer of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), explains why the RPS Assembly has decided that the Society will not become a royal college in the immediate future: ‘Why the Royal Pharmaceutical Society is not seeking to convert to a royal college at this time‘