A top award for exceptional service to the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) has been presented posthumously to Colin Hitchings, who was a president of the former Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB).
The award was presented at the 74th FIP World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand, held on 30 August to 4 September 2014. It is named after Joseph A Oddis, who served as executive vice-president and chief executive officer of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) for 37 years. Oddis was also one of the founders of the ASHP Foundation.
Hitchings died on 30 June 2014 aged 75 years. His daughters Janet Eavis and Bethan Chapman collected the award on his behalf at the FIP opening ceremony from Michel Buchmann, outgoing president of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP). Hitchings originally joined the Register of the then Pharmaceutical Society in 1963, becoming a Fellow of the RPSGB in 1992.
Speaking after the presentation, his daughters told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “We are very proud of our father’s achievements and the high regard he is held in by so many of his colleagues in the UK and internationally. It is with mixed emotions that we have come to Bangkok to receive this award for him and it has been quite a journey for both of us discovering more about dad’s professional life. As children growing up, he was simply a dad who travelled a lot — we now know there was a lot more to it than that!
“This is a great honour, which dad would have been delighted to receive. He was very proud of his profession; he inspired many and enjoyed meeting people and making friends from all walks of life, wherever he went. We are grateful for the well wishes we have received and this has been of great comfort as we continue to mourn our loss.”
Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) chief executive Helen Gordon said she was delighted to see that Colin was recognised by FIP in this way. “Colin’s commitment to the Society as a former president is well known to us, and his commitment to FIP and international pharmacy was just as energetic and deserved acknowledgement,” she said.
Colin Hitchings spent his early career working in various hospital posts in Wales until, in 1965, he was appointed chief pharmacist at the Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) Hospital in Welwyn Garden City.
He was a member of FIP for more than 40 years, and held many positions in the hospital section, the board of pharmacy practice, the bureau and the council. He served for eight years as its professional secretary (1997Â–2005), during which time he also acted as interim general secretary and CEO (1998–1999).
Hitchings became chief pharmacist at Northwick Park Hospital in 1969, holding the post until the 1973 NHS reorganisation, which enabled area pharmaceutical officers to work more closely with community pharmacists and local pharmaceutical committees.
For the next 15 years, he worked as the regional pharmaceutical officer for the South West Thames regional health authority. He was appointed as area pharmaceutical officer and chief pharmacist at the Royal Free Hospital. At first based in central London, he was well placed to use his experience in planning and carrying out the move of the pharmacy operation to a new hospital in Hampstead.
Hitchings served on the council of the RPSGB between 1977 and 1989 and was elected president in 1983 and 1984. He was also the only person to have held both the office of president of the RPSGB and president of the Guild of Hospital Pharmacists, which awarded him the Evans Gold medal for outstanding contributions to hospital pharmacy.
After his term as president of the RPSGB, Hitchings was the pharmaceutical adviser to the World Health Organization from 1986 until 1990. He also held a number of positions at FIP. He was president of the hospital pharmacy section between 1985 and 1990, and was elected professional secretary to the Board of Pharmacy Practice for two terms between 1997 and 2005.
His work internationally led to a number of awards, including honorary membership to the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia, and the award of the Francke medal from the ASHP for distinguished service to international pharmacy and honorary membership to the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists. During his career, Hitchings published 40 papers on various aspects of the pharmacy profession.
He was presented with the 2009 Distinguished Practice Award by the board of pharmaceutical practice of FIP in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2009. At the time, a spokesman for FIP said: “With his experience and guidance, he has helped the profession of pharmacy grow and develop to meet the ever-changing expectations of the healthcare system.”