From Mr D. Tyas, MRPharmS
Elsewhere in this issue (p55), I attempt to discuss the professional representation of pharmacists by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, past, present and future. During the course of debate in the Society’s “General group” virtual network forum on the present ballot on the proposed membership category for pharmaceutical scientists, we have read much from those who wish to see a royal college for “pharmacy” to prioritise overarching leadership of related pharmaceutical professions in accordance with the Carter-Clarke Transitional Committee process. Howard McNulty and Graham Phillips have summarised how the ballot came about as a result of this process in their article published last week (PJ, 2 July 2011, p12).
However, as I outline in my article, the democratic wishes of grass-roots pharmacist Society members were disregarded by Transcom and, in turn, by the erstwhile council in decreeing that this ballot was to take place — a ballot that may not even have been necessary had the “Save our Society” campaign not been able successfully to resist Charter changes proposed in 2003, which would have enabled the establishment of new membership categories for nonpharmacists regardless of the democratic wishes of pharmacists. When asked by The Journal on behalf of Transcom, only 39 per cent of respondents wanted pharmaceutical scientists to be invited to join, while full membership status or full membership of own section were approved by a mere 9 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively (PJ, 13 September 2008, p295).
In the event that the proposal is ratified in the ballot, a Leading article (PJ, 25 June 2011, p743) has already mentioned that another component of Lord Carter’s vision for a royal college “needs to be grasped: the relationship of technicians with the RPS”, and Chris Green (PJ, 18 June 2011, p715) has called for a review in due course to “reconsider the issue of voting powers” for pharmaceutical scientists. Among other concerns such as those expressed by Bob Gartside (PJ, 2 July 2011, p13), doubts remain over whether the proverbial bar has been set high enough in the form of the proposed definition for putative scientist members, and demographic and financial projections have not been forthcoming.
Pharmacists, whatever their backgrounds and engagements, who harbour any doubts — not least, mindful of the record of technician and “lay” interference before the Society’s separation, as to whether ratification might compromise or undermine the Society’s ability to represent them professionally — should think long and hard about voting “no”, while they still can.
David Tyas, Birmingham
Mr Tyas is a committee member of the Locum Group of the Pharmacists’ Defence Association Union. The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the group or the union. — EDITOR.