On 8 May 2017, some local practice forum (LPF) steering group members called upon the candidates in the national pharmacy board elections to recognise the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and publicly support LPFs. Over the past two years I have visited many LPFs and have been hugely impressed.
Whilst I fully understand the concerns articulated in the letter, and share the frustrations of the new website, which we are working hard to resolve, I am also optimistic that things will improve and that we can make better use of our members.
Funding for local events will continue because, for a significant number of our members, the face-to-face networking is important. But some members prefer to interact virtually so we are also working on a framework for virtual events. We have a new member of staff starting in August and are making a conscious effort to provide LPF leads with early sight of materials.
We can, however, do so much more. I want to see LPFs included in developing new campaigns and want to investigate ways in which we can develop a better dialogue between centre and members. We also need to provide materials to help them engage locally, for example, with sustainability and transformation plans and vanguards.
A recent example of how we are changing is the election toolkit, which was sent to LPF leads first but will, hopefully, also be used by individuals. I urge members to engage with local candidates and impress on them how pharmacists can help relieve NHS pressures and the benefits of investing in pharmacy rather than cutting funding.
I was once a politician and realised that there are two types of people. The first group complain and the mantra is: “they should do something about it”. The second group say: “we should do something about it”. Politicians like the second group because it is great to work with people who want to find solutions. It occurred to me that our LPF activists are, at heart, ‘we’ people because they have been doing their best to build those local networks and support pharmacists. We will have the relationship right when our LPF members say ‘we’ and instinctively that word embraces local and national.
I am committed to making that happen but I want to end by using two words which, when it comes to our members and particularly our volunteers, we do not use enough: “Thank you”.
Election candidate, English Pharmacy Board
The candidate letters for the RPS national pharmacy board elections have not been edited by The Pharmaceutical Journal