In light of the pitiful turnout for the recent Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) pharmacy board elections, it is timely to give some serious thought to the relationship between the RPS and its members. I was hopeful for a healthy turnout, given the ‘noise’ of social media activity, but it seems those participating represented a small minority of the membership.
The absolute number of members is important to the RPS. Their fees are an important contributor to its existence and its ongoing financial viability. Their quantum provides the legitimacy required for the RPS to represent them effectively, and to influence stakeholders on their behalf. Any royal college in the making needs to command the support of the majority of those it seeks to serve.
However, beyond the size of the membership, it is the quality of member engagement that is of paramount importance. Of course, the RPS must provide exclusive value-added products and services which fulfil the needs of members. Of course, the RPS must continue to support and develop pharmacists’ skills and competencies, and to influence and advocate to improve the progression and perception of the profession. But, above all else, it desperately needs to become smarter at listening and responding to members.
The success or failure of any membership body is dependent upon its engagement with its members, which is about forging and sustaining meaningful relationships. This was my dream and, regrettably, it does not appear to have happened. Long-term mutually beneficial relationships are the key to the success of any organisation. The RPS is far better than the RPSGB in so many areas, but the importance of its member relationships does not seem to have the focus or the funding it deserves.
I hope the new chief executive, the president, board members, its executive, and every single employee will work tirelessly to engage with its members. I hope they will put the members at the centre of everything they do, understand members’ wants and needs, win their hearts and minds, harness their energy and enthusiasm, build their trust, appreciation and advocacy, and work with them to make the RPS the ‘must-join’ organisation it was envisaged it would be. It will take the dedicated effort of everyone, the necessary financial resources and, crucially, the marketing expertise and tools to deliver it.
We need to appreciate that members expect and deserve this, potential members need to see this, and the future of the RPS depends on this.
Royal Pharmaceutical Society