The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) English Pharmacy Board (EPB) held their spring meeting at the Society’s London offices on 11 April 2019. Guests at the meeting included: Sue Kilby, chair of the RPS Industrial Pharmacists’ Forum; Tahmina Rokib, RPS ambassador; and Rahul Singhal, a member of the RPS Hospital Expert Advisory Group.
Paul Bennett and Ash Soni, chief executive and president of the RPS, respectively, were also present at the meeting, as was Robbie Turner, the Society’s director of pharmacy and member experience.
English Pharmacy Board work programme
Heidi Wright, the Society’s English practice and policy lead, said that Team England’s diabetes policy document was being finalised ahead of its campaign launch later this quarter. She explained how the policy now focused only on type 2 diabetes and considers the role of pharmacists in prevention, early detection and management. Sandra Gidley, chair of the EPB, noted the EPB’s thanks to board member Mahendra Patel who had been “dogged in his devotion to this task”, she said.
Regional liaison pharmacists Amandeep Doll and Nicola Gray briefed attendees on plans towards a systems leadership campaign, with a toolkit set for launch at the Clinical Pharmacy Congress, which will be held in London in June 2019. The campaign will aim to increase awareness of the clinical and leadership skills of pharmacists in multidisciplinary teams.
“We want to deliver a resource for members that puts system leadership into perspective, including how to identify future system leaders,” Doll said, adding that for current system leaders, the resource would help to facilitate a safe space for interprofessional conversations, which can then be taken outwards”.
Christopher John, head of workforce development, said that a task and finish group charged with reviewing the RPS Faculty had met for the first time on 22 March 2019. The group had, he said, started working on the purpose of Faculty. “Everything else comes out of that,” he said. “The group will meet monthly and communicate what goes on”.
In response to a query from board member Tracey Thornley, John confirmed that existing Faculty processes are continuing while the review takes place. “It’s a parallel process,” he explained.
Progress on professional standards
Wing Tang, head of professional standards at the RPS, said that standards for community pharmacy services were still on track for completion by March 2020.
He said the standards would be “principles based, with descriptions of good practice”, and relevant to all sectors of pharmacy across Great Britain. The standards will “focus on clinical services rather than transactional details”, he said, and include the supply of medicines, person-centred care, collaborative work, leadership and professionalism.
He explained they will not include aspects already covered by other pharmacy bodies, such as remuneration, staffing numbers, the Falsified Medicines Directive, and medicines quality.
“They will be stretch standards, but achievable,” he said, adding that the standards will first be checked by a steering group and project board before going out to open consultation.
Tang also gave an update on progress towards a National Institute for Health and Care Excellence-accredited designated prescribing practitioner (DPP) competency framework, due to go out for consultation in June or July 2019 before completion by the end of 2019. To date, he said the draft contained almost 80 competency statements, which is “too many, so we are refining that down”.
Tang asked the board to think about ways to advocate for, and implement, the standards: for example, training days.
RPS conference update
Meanwhile, Hanna Jenvey, the Society’s events and sponsorship manager, confirmed that the 2019 RPS conference would take place in London on 17 November 2019. She said it would be free for members, while non-members will pay £250.
The programme is currently being drafted, with thought being given to “how to bring research in, without overlapping with the Science and Research Summit”.
The RPS awards ceremony — a ticketed event — will be held on the evening before the conference. The RPS events team is also considering an event on the evening of the conference, aimed at students, students, preregistration trainees and early career pharmacists.
Updates on Brexit and the serious shortage protocol
According to John Lunny, public affairs manager at the RPS, the Society’s Brexit online hub had been updated following the new proposed EU exit date of 31 October 2019, which was agreed on 10 April 2019.
He added that discussions were taking place each week with industry bodies, including Health Education England, NHS England and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, around the implications of Brexit for pharmacy staff.
Lunny noted that on 9 February 2019 the government passed legislation allowing serious shortage protocols to be initiated in the event of medicines shortages, which he described as “a good example of pharmacists making change”.
In response, Gidley noted that she had recently met with John Ashworth, Labour and Co-Operative party MP for Leicester South and shadow secretary of state for health and social care, who had proposed an unsuccessful motion to overturn the legislation on 18 March 2019.
“All of us might say that the Department of Health and Social Care didn’t do the best job it could have done in explaining [the SSP], and [Ashworth’s motion] could be an element of that — although that is speculation on my part,” Gidley said.
“We made [the SSP] clear to Ashworth and he was very receptive to the idea that that when we have more detail on the process, we would be happy to brief him.”
Gidley also told the board that Ashworth had “spoken to local pharmacists who’d said they weren’t prepared [for the SSP]: we explained that at that time, no one was”.
“He is keen to work with us,” Gidley concluded.
Goodbye and good luck
Finally, the board paid tribute to two departing members.
Attending her final board meeting, Liz Butterfield said her seven years on the board had been “a great privilege and honour”.
She thanked the board for “being such wonderful board colleagues”.
The organisation has achieved so much over the past seven years, and I wish you the best during the next few, critical years.”
Butterfield went on to say that Gidley’s “tenacity and dedication to issues” facing the sector had been greatly appreciated.
The meeting was also Gidley’s last as chair of the EPB, after four years at the helm.
Soni told Gidley that the board “wants to recognise the great job you’ve done over the last four years to bring the board together”.
“For an organisation that is so young we have achieved a lot, and much of that is due to your leadership,” he added.
In response, Gidley said it was “a hard decision” to step down, but she felt that two terms as chair was sufficient.
“I hope whoever takes over keeps me busy and out of mischief,” she added. “I have no desire to unwittingly turn into the grumpy old git in the corner!”
- The next RPS English Pharmacy Board meeting will be held on 20 June 2019