The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS’s) English Pharmacy Board (EPB) held their summer meeting at the RPS’s central London headquarters on 19–20 June 2019.
Present on both days of the meeting were Paul Bennett and Ash Soni, chief executive and then president of the RPS, respectively; Ravi Sharma, director for England at the RPS; and Robbie Turner, the Society’s director of pharmacy and member experience. Those attending on day two of the meeting included Gino Martini, chief scientist at the RPS; Heidi Wright, England practice and policy lead at the RPS; Amandeep Doll and Stephanie West, the Society’s regional liaison pharmacists; Adele Mott, chief pharmaceutical officer’s clinical fellow at the RPS; Sue Kilby, chair of the RPS Industrial Pharmacists’ Forum; Roger Fernandes, representing the RPS Hospital Expert Advisory Group; Pavitar Gandham of West Midland South Local Practice Forum; Samrina Bhatti, chief pharmaceutical officer’s clinical fellow for NHS England; and Aamer Safdar, principal pharmacist lead for education and development at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.
Three new members were welcomed to the board: Duncan Petty, Andre Yeung and Brendon Jiang, who were elected alongside returning members Sibby Buckle and David Carter.
Board member David Carter sent his apologies for both days of the meeting; apologies were received from board members Nadia Bukhari and Ash Soni for the second day.
New chair and vice chair elected
The first order of business was the election of a new board chair and vice chair — Sandra Gidley decided to step down as chair in April 2019, and Sibby Buckle also came to the end of her term as vice chair. Claire Anderson and Hemant Patel were nominated for the position of chair: following a secret ballot, Anderson was elected. Martin Astbury was the only nomination for vice chair and his appointment was approved by the board.
Gidley, Carter and Buckle were then elected to the RPS Assembly.
Martini suggested that given that measles and mumps cases have risen owing to falling vaccination rates, the Society should prepare a statement on vaccination in general. Astbury concurred and said he would take the suggestion to the International Pharmaceutical Federation.
Martini also told the board that a guidance document on the sale of cannabidiol oil in pharmacies, ‘CBD oils — a practical guide’, was published in June 2019.
Gail Fleming, director for education and professional development at the RPS, told the board that the directorate had worked with Health Education England (HEE) to align the RPS Advanced Pharmacy Framework to HEE’s Advanced Clinical Practice multiprofessional framework. This work, which will support mutual recognition and dual credentialing processes, is due for completion by autumn 2019.
She also told the board that pharmacists undertaking RPS’s Foundation training will take part in a small-scale pilot of assessment processes towards the end of 2019. Learnings from this pilot will inform strategies for a nationwide end-of-Foundation training assessment.
Team England update
Sharma told the meeting that the Society’s response to the ‘NHS Long Term Plan’ will fall into three categories: pharmacists’ role and expertise; workforce development (including workplace pressure); and futuristic healthcare, such as artificial intelligence, robotics and personalised medicine. He also said that the RPS’s guide to systems leadership, ‘A Systems Approach to Medicines Optimisation and Pharmacy’, published in June 2019, aligned well with the NHS’s strategy — as does an upcoming policy paper on type 2 diabetes mellitus, which was since published on 10 July 2019.
Gareth Kitson, professional development and engagement lead for local practice forums, reminded the board that the ten RPS ambassadors’ contracts are due to end in August 2019 and asked for feedback on three options for the future of the role.
After some discussion, it was agreed that the roles would be retained but with an alignment with schools of pharmacy, as part of a focus on becoming more engaged with students and early career pharmacists. Kitson said this option would require the recruitment of a further five ambassadors.
Policy and practice
Wright updated the board on work to date on a Britain-wide RPS workforce pressures campaign and asked for input on how to move forward. The board supports the idea of producing a paper and then running a member survey later in 2019, followed by a round table event.
Patel said there was a need to “re-engage with the government, and give them the evidence of where pharmacists are under stress”.
Fernandes said that quantifying the problem — for example, by how many working days are lost to workplace stress — would help to make the case for action. Kilby said that industry was not immune to the issue, adding that “taking days off can make the situation worse”.
Wright also said that Team England was working on a discussion paper on primary care networks and integrated care systems, due for publication “in a few months”. Considerations in this paper will include what the clinical role of pharmacists should be in five to ten years’ time and what kind of support is needed to make that happen.
Finally, Turner said that there had been discussion within the RPS about whether the Society should take an overt stance on Brexit — especially around the risks associated with a potential ‘no-deal’ scenario. He said the RPS is privy to plans in place to ensure continued supply of medicines in a no-deal Brexit.
“Although there is not much more anyone could have done to plan, as we get closer to a chance of [a no-deal Brexit], there are likely to still be risks in the system despite this planning”, he said, adding that if a no-deal Brexit happens there will be major shocks to the distribution of medicines and the Society could be challenged on what it did to warn people.
Gidley said that people were raising concerns, “not least in the hospital sector”.
Buckle said that “taking an overtly political position could split the profession”, but that “providing advice would be OK”. Noting that medicines shortages happened frequently, and simply as a consequence of Brexit preparations, she suggested that “more weight” needs to be put behind the use of the serious shortage protocol.
- The next EPB meeting will be held on 10 October 2019.