English Pharmacy Board meeting: 30 January 2020

At the latest Royal Pharmaceutical Society English Pharmacy Board meeting, discussions revolved around plans for science and research, and a digital edition of Medicines, Ethics and Practice.

England RPS Board

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) English Pharmacy Board (EPB) held its first meeting of 2020 at the Society’s London offices on 30 January 2020.

Present for the full meeting were Paul Bennett, chief executive of the RPS; Ravi Sharma, director for England at the RPS; Robbie Turner, director of pharmacy and member experience at the RPS; John Lunny, public affairs manager at the RPS; and Heidi Wright, English practice and policy lead at the RPS. Gail Fleming, director for education and professional development at the RPS, joined by video link.

Guests at the meeting included Lynne Smith, Assembly lay member; Sue Kilby, chair of the RPS’s Industrial Pharmacists Forum; Regan McCahill, president of the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association; Paul Wright and Annett Blochberger, the chief pharmaceutical officer’s clinical fellows; Faraaz Hussain, member of RPS West Yorkshire; and Mohammed Hussain, a Fellow of the RPS.

Apologies were received from board member Duncan Petty.

National pharmacy board elections

It was noted that there will be five EPB places to fill for the 2020 national pharmacy board elections, as four current members who were elected in 2017 are due to step down on 17 June 2020. A fifth member who was elected in 2017, Nadia Bukhari, resigned from the board in September 2019.

Pharmacy and member experience

Wing Tang, head of professional standards at the Society, said that a digital version of
Medicines, Ethics and Practice
(MEP) was in development: something that members had asked for, Tang said. He added that a digital version would protect the Society’s intellectual property around MEP, noting that a PDF version of the guidance had appeared in social media groups, meaning that what members pay for is being accessed by others.

Hanna Jenvey, RPS events and sponsorship manager, said that 42 member events were scheduled for 2020, with careers support being a main area of focus.

In a discussion on the merits of different forms of Society membership card, board chair Claire Anderson raised the possibility of digital cards. The idea was met with some agreement, although others felt a physical card was important to many members too. 

Education and professional development 

Fleming said that the Society had attended General Pharmaceutical Council workshops following the regulator’s consultation on the initial education and training of pharmacists. The post-consultation work program had been due to finish in January 2020, Fleming said, but had been extended. She added that proposals for a pharmacy degree apprenticeship had been paused to allow for more communication with stakeholders, but at this time the RPS had not received any further updates.

The Society was about to start work on advanced practice credentialing, Fleming noted, and was due to meet with partners the following week. And following the RPS’s takeover of the review and approval of consultant pharmacist posts in England and Wales, work on individual credentialing of consultant pharmacists was now underway, with a task and finish group established.

Science and research

Helena Rosado, senior research development manager at the RPS, said that final arrangements for the Science and Research Summit, due to take place in London on 19 June 2020, were being made. Confirmed speakers include Dame Sue Hill and Keith Ridge, chief scientific officer for England and chief pharmaceutical officer for England, respectively.

A workshop on Research Ready had been held in October 2019, Rosado said. Recommendations from that workshop included that the RPS puts more emphasis on pharmacy research, and the suggestion that the Society publishes a new research strategy. It was also suggested that the Research Ready programme was no longer fit-for-purpose and needed a redesign, Rosado noted. In response, board member Tracey Thornley said she felt that, at present, the emphasis was on developing material for “hard research”, but that there is also “loads of stuff going on at the other end. There’s lots more that the RPS can do to support research in practice, and that isn’t all about randomised controlled trials and academia”.

Workplan 2020

Ravi Sharma outlined Team England’s priorities for 2020, which includes advocating for the role of pharmacists in primary care networks (PCNs) and “developing a high quality PCN pharmacist offer”. Community pharmacy transformation, Sharma said, is one of the “biggest changes for many years” and the Society would “support pharmacists through the transition, but also raise public awareness”. Sharma also emphasised workforce wellbeing, saying the sector needed “meaningful change”.

Heidi Wright, RPS English practice and policy lead, said that a full report on the Society’s workforce wellbeing survey would be published towards the end of March 2020, and a web hub will be developed. A major focus of the wellbeing work, she said, is to work with other organisations to develop solutions to workplace stressors. The Society will come up with “policy asks”, some together with the other RPS country teams, but also with some focused on England.

Board member Sibby Buckle asked how much stress members are experiencing under the new pharmacy contract and noted: “Running five audits at once is a lot of pressure”. Board vice-chair Martin Astbury said it was vital to ensure “community pharmacy environments are safe to deliver the services we’ve got: we do need to set targets, but they must be appropriate to the skill level, mix and number of staff”.

Wright also told the board that a 2020/2021 digital strategy was being developed across the three nations, and that the Society is developing a member resource on data-driven care. In February, Heidi Wright said, the Society would publish a digital capabilities position statement.

  • The next English Pharmacy Board meeting will be held on 29 April 2020. 
Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, March 2020, Vol 304, No 7935;304(7935)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2020.20207699

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