One key challenge that the profession — and hence the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) — has is its lack of unity, real or perceived. Yes, it has multi-sector representation, all of which will have different perspectives but, surely, we all work towards the same ending: the provision of high quality pharmaceutical care. This lack of unity wastes time, energy, focus and opportunity, and is often used against the profession to divide and rule.
We must put behind us the often misinformed hierarchical baggage and sectorial egos of the past and move the profession forward to occupy the space that we, the public, and the health systems require. Change begins at the individual level, but the RPS has a role in this through strong leadership by example and by listening to and supporting the needs of its membership, with RPS local practice forums playing an important part in this.
Then we must tackle the long debated issue of what the pharmacy profession is that the RPS represents and supports. Yes it is pharmacists wherever they work; yes it is undergraduates and preregistration graduates who need nurturing and mentoring to become the best they can be; and yes it is also the retired pharmacists who could share their knowledge and experience to great effect. We now include pharmaceutical scientists, but what about registered technicians? Are they not a key member of the pharmacy team in all areas of practice?
The word ‘integration’ is appearing frequently in government health publications. Integration is the inverse of differentiation, yet we continue to differentiate. Integration also means to combine two or more things to be more effective. Until we stop differentiating our profession(s), it is going to be difficult to integrate us into the health systems successfully. It is time to grasp the nettle, time to unite the pharmacy professions, time to be proud of who we are and what we do, time to integrate us within the wider healthcare professions, and time to stop taking and do and be.
English Pharmacy Board
Royal Pharmaceutical Society