The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) English Pharmacy Board’s (EPB’s) autumn meeting was held on 4 October 2018 at the Society’s London headquarters. In attendance was Paul Bennett, chief executive of the RPS, and Robbie Turner, director of pharmacy and member experience at the RPS. Guests at the meeting were Ravi Sharma, incoming director for RPS England; Sue Kilby, chair of the RPS’s Industrial Pharmacists Forum; RPS ambassadors Sarah Browbank and Shirin Alwash; Claire May of Sussex Local Pharmacy Forum and Matthew Boyd, associate professor in patient safety and pharmacy practice at the University of Nottingham.
Board member Mahendra Patel said that the first RPS Innovators’ Forum, on the subject of diabetes care, had been held two weeks previously. Good practice community and hospital pharmacy prescribing had been shared, and a GP in attendance had demonstrated the digital resources he was using with pharmacists. A patient group was present at the forum, and board member Claire Anderson said that on the day that “the patient voice was the loudest there”. The forum would, Patel said, feed into the RPS’s upcoming diabetes campaign.
Ivana Knyght, head of professional support at the RPS, said an updated suite of resources on the summary care record, including videos showing how to use the system, would shortly be published on the RPS website shortly.
Concern around the timescales for Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) implementation was an important message from the July 2018 meeting of the Pharmacy Digital Forum, said Sibby Buckle, chair of the Forum. Ash Soni, president of the RPS, said that the sector’s fears were compounded by “real concern around Brexit — we may have seven weeks’ access, or 20 months’ access, to the hub … and I think we’re unlikely to meet the deadline”. Soni added that scanning of medicine packs “can also help to reduce dispensing errors, and maybe that is a better angle than FMD”.
Kilby echoed Soni’s concerns, stating that it is “not just on implementation. If we don’t do [FMD] but the rest of Europe do, certain individuals could target us as a counterfeit area … we do not want the UK to be a haven for counterfeit medicines.” The uncertainty is also difficult for software developers, she said: “It’s hard for them to know what they should be developing. What’s going to happen long term?
Turner said that the RPS attends the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) implementation board meetings and responds to “a plethora” of consultations on FMD. He noted that a “significant area of our website is devoted to it: a hub of information that other people have developed”. He added that The Pharmaceutical Journal has published “a fantastic array of articles and infographics” on the subject.
John Lunny, RPS public affairs manager, said that as part of the mental health campaign, the RPS was working with the Faculty of Old Age Psychiatry and discussing how the Society can support its work. The Society was also engaging with NHS on their long-term plan, as part of an ongoing dialogue.
Lunny added that on 13 September 2018, the Society had held a Britain-wide Brexit workshop at the Society’s London office, attended by representatives from the MHRA and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, among others. The discussion had focused on the impacts on science and research (including funding), access to medicines and workforce implications (including attracting talent to the sector). The RPS would be meeting with representatives from the Department of Health and Social Care in the next few weeks to discuss the sectors concerns, he said.
Pharmacy and member experience
Ivana Knyght, head of professional support at the RPS, said that guidance on FMD would be coming soon. The guidance will be “very practical and operational”, and will include community pharmacy, general practice and care homes. In other updates, she said that the RPS Museum team was now auditing the Scottish collection archives, estimated at around 11,000 objects. The RPS Support team also now has its own Twitter handle, @RPSsupport.
Turner said that the Society was planning to publish its professional standards for community pharmacy services in the second quarter of 2020, and that guidance on inappropriate polypharmacy, led by Clare Howard, clinical lead for medicines optimisation at Wessex Academic Health Science Network, is due to be published in November 2018.
Gail Fleming, director for education and professional development at the RPS, gave an overview of her directorate’s plans. A meeting of the Educational Governance Oversight Board (EGOB) had been held at the RPS’s London headquarters on 27 September 2018, Fleming said, during which plans for UK-wide postgraduate pharmacy training were discussed. The meeting was attended by, among others, Keith Ridge and Rose Marie Parr, chief pharmaceutical officers for England and Scotland; representatives from the General Pharmaceutical Council and NHS Education for Scotland and from pharmacy employers. The group had agreed that the sector needs defined career frameworks, clear links to existing education and training, alignment of standards to other healthcare professionals and “healthy and open dialogue” between pharmacy practice and education. The workshop explored how each stakeholder could contribute to achieving these objectives.
In further updates on the RPS’s education strategy, Beth Ward, head of professional development at the RPS, said the biggest news of the quarter was the launch of the Society’s core curriculum for professional development, announced by Paul Bennett at the International Pharmaceutical Federation’s 2018 Congress.
There was a discussion on the representation of different sectors on the English Pharmacy Board, in light of the future possibility of having no representative from hospital pharmacy. Sandra Gidley, chair of the Board, said that any changes would need to go through the Assembly, but laid out some options: co-opting one place; inviting someone from the sector to sit for a year; inviting a representative as required to specific meetings; reserving a place at the next board elections; or returning to the practice of sectoral places.
Whatever the Board decides, Gidley said, it would be useful to have stronger links with the Hospital Expert Advisory Group.
Aamer Safdar, currently the only practising hospital pharmacist on the English Pharmacy Board, proposed the idea of a one-year co-opt followed by an election. Board member Elizabeth Butterfield said she preferred the idea of engaging with the sector and encouraging people to stand, “in the spirit of an elected board”.
After further discussion, Gidley noted she did not sense “a strong appetite to change the system”, but added that the Board “does need a strategy to encourage underrepresented sectors”. The Board may, she said, be in a position where, in 2019, it has no hospital or primary care representative. But the Board’s preference seems to be to “wait and see” what happens, while having an active engagement programme in the meantime.
- The next English Pharmacy Board meeting was set for 31 January 2019.