The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS’s) Assembly held an open meeting on 16 November 2022, in hybrid form.
Opening the meeting, Claire Anderson, president of the RPS, welcomed Assembly members and observers, and thanked everyone involved in delivering “such a successful annual conference and Celebration of Science, especially Beth [Ward] and Hanna [Jenvey] and their teams”. The annual conference saw 500 in-person attendees and 250 online attendees, Anderson said.
Chief executive officer’s report
Paul Bennett, chief executive officer of the RPS, added his thanks to RPS teams who had “worked hard for the very first hybrid conference we have put on” and also noted the “very successful” in-person Celebration of Science event, which saw around 75 attendees.
Bennett highlighted the launch, at the recent annual conference, of the updated professional standards for hospital services, which — for the first time — apply UK-wide. “For me,” Bennett said, “one of the most notable things is the collaborative approach in the creation of this work.” He added that the Society was working with the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK and the Pharmacy Forum NI to update the professional standards for error reporting, which he said was especially relevant since the General Pharmaceutical Council published new resources on the duty of candour. The first step towards updating these standards will take place in early 2023 and a multidisciplinary group will be formed to take the work forward, Bennett said.
The Society had previously been commissioned by the Welsh government to review prison services and had now been asked to begin phase two of that review, Bennett said, adding that the RPS has now also been commissioned to review hospital services. This, he said, “demonstrates the confidence that the Welsh Government has” in the Society, and Bennett offered his thanks to Andrew Evans, chief pharmaceutical officer for Wales, “for his leadership in that: that when professional support is deemed appropriate, they turn to RPS”.
Membership equality, diversity and inclusion data
Amandeep Doll, head of professional belonging at the RPS, updated Assembly on the optional collection of RPS membership’s equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) data. Two surveys have been carried out to date as part of the RPS’s Inclusion and Diversity Strategy, with the aim of making sure the Society’s services are inclusive and accessible to everyone and that there is diverse representation in its decision-making processes, national boards and advisory groups.
The 2022 EDI survey, Doll said, received a low response rate of 4%: down from 9% in 2021. As a consequence, she said, it is “hard to get a real picture”, and that the Society needed to “evaluate what’s been done and look for a more sustainable solution”.
Three options for optional collection of EDI data were proposed, and one particular option was recommended: optional collection as part of the membership joining and renewal processes.
Assembly member Tase Oputu noted that EDI data collection needs to be “more than a tick box exercise: it is vital for us to be able to track the impact of work on inclusion and diversity”, and that “an optional survey doesn’t really give us what we need”.
Assembly members agreed that they were happy with the recommended option and with the idea of reaching out to members to make them aware of it.
Panel of Fellows report
Christine Bond, chair of the Panel of Fellows, said that she had reviewed trends in appointments of Fellows using the data available, which effectively starts in 2012 and includes year of qualification, gender, country, sector and employment status, but not ethnicity.
Bond said that, initially, the majority of Fellows were retired but that this has now changed, with more people still in practice being recognised. She also said that, in 2012, Fellows were male-dominated but now the figures are more equal. In terms of the three GB nations, 78% live in England, 11% in Scotland and 7% in Wales, and the rest are based overseas.
However, some sectors, Bond said, are still under-represented and there is still no data on ethnicity collected. She also noted that no data is held on applications for Fellowship, so it was not possible to look at potential bias.
To increase the range and number of Fellow nominations, Bond discussed work, including greater engagement with existing fellows and placing biographies of Fellows on the RPS website. Some changes had already been made to the website, she said, alongside more engagement with country boards and better targeted promotion of the most recent round of calls for nomination.
Paul Bennett said a member engagement exercise on whether the Society should rejoin the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) had resulted in 184 responses in support of rejoining, and three against. FIP are currently proposing a reform of terms of membership, and this will go to the FIP Council on 12 December 2022 — after which the RPS can prepare an application to rejoin early in 2023, Bennett said. “I understand there was great regret at FIP that we exited, and I think we would be warmly received back in,” he added.