Transitional change is required to reposition pharmacy as we enter 2023

It is good that the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) finally has a workable vision for the profession.

As you know well, strategic visions — such as the RPS’s ‘Vision for pharmacy professional practice‘, published on 14 December 2022 — are essential for driving forward. What prevents strategic visions turning into reality are the strong ‘gravitational forces’ of the following:

  • Pharmacists’ personal visions being inconsistent with the ‘big picture’ and work not having a meaning in their lives — that is to say working for money rather than to serve a higher purpose;
  • Self-interest preventing change at pace and scale;
  • A lack of inspirational leadership at local and national level;
  • A lack of individualised support for change;
  • An expectation of change by the NHS and employers without provision of adequate resources;
  • Fitness of local structures to adequately provide well thought out plans for managing change;
  • Disagreement over what will no longer be done, resulting in conflict and increase in workload between doing new and old work. 

In short, the change that is needed to reposition the pharmacy profession as a provider of cognitive services, be fit for purpose and for integration with the new cash-strapped NHS will be complex and in parts destructive. The destructive part will bring resistance and would require leaders to be sensitive to the needs of the pharmacists, to be brave and to be inspirational. 

How national pharmacy bodies will influence change at local level will require new thought, collaboration and resources. The exact details are unclear at this stage but there is not much time left for that if we are going to be in step with the NHS.

This is in my view ‘transitional change’ — this happens when we recognise the need to implement a completely new course of action. Following the RPS’s newly published vision, we will need to have a set plan for making this change happen and are able to control the implementation process over a designated period of time.

Having said that, I congratulate my professional body, the RPS, for creating the new vision. It will enable us to bequeath to the next generation a profession that is committed to public service, relevant to the NHS and sustainable as a responsive health profession.

Our predecessors would be proud of the steps taken to secure pharmacy’s legacy and future pharmacists would be grateful for the inheritance that will enable them to contribute to the nation’s health and well being. 

Hemant Patel

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, December 2022, Vol 309, No 7968;309(7968)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2022.1.170376

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