With reference to The Pharmaceutical Journal of 5 May (p512), I was concerned about the content of your leading article entitled “Let the Society be preserved”.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has both regulated and led the pharmacy profession for many years. As pointed out in the White Paper “Trust assurance and safety — the regulation of health professionals in the 21st century”, and indeed, as the Society’s President himself agrees, this dual functionality is no longer viable, when the public expect, rightly, regulation to be transparently independent of professional leadership. This is particularly the case as pharmacy practice, welcomely, transforms to become considerably more clinically focused.
While leadership of the pharmacy profession is primarily a matter for the profession itself, what neither I, nor the public, wish to see is the demise of the pharmacy profession. While strong professional regulation is important, so is strong professional leadership. Both will help ensure that we all benefit more from the skills and knowledge within pharmacy. Therefore, I would like to see both the General Pharmaceutical Council and the proposed royal college as successful, prominent and influential organisations.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Society has contributed immensely to safe and effective patient care over many years. In developing a royal college, I want to see the profession build on those solid foundations provided by the Society, but the profession in its entirety should come together to decide the best way forward, with the Society closely involved in this process. But there should be no doubt that the royal college will be a new body. Initial indications are that this is what much of the profession itself wants. For example, this view was expressed by participants at the recent King Fund event to discuss professional leadership in pharmacy.
These are historic times for the pharmacy profession. I am sure that the profession will want to grasp the opportunity of creating a royal college — a body that will lead the profession in the 21st century. The royal college will, I have no doubt, be at the forefront of helping its members deliver innovative, good, evidence-based, safe care for the public and patients.
Lord Philip Hunt, Minister of State for Quality at the Department of Health