There is strong support in the profession for establishing a royal college for pharmacy to replace the current fragmented structure but there are concerns that it should not be a rebadged version of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, according to a King’s Fund report published last week (PJ, 7 April, p387).
The report is based on a seminar, commissioned by the Lord Carter of Coles working party and hosted by the King’s Fund, which was convened to explore the case for a royal college for the pharmacy profession. Attendees at the seminar heard presentations from the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Speech andLanguage Therapists about the structure and functions of these colleges. Ian Simpson, chief executive of the Collegeof Pharmacy Practice, also presented the Waterloo agreement (PJ, 31 March, p357), a vision backed by 18 pharmacy organisations on how a royal college should be set up.
Introducing the report, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the King’s Fund, says in a letter to Lord Carter that there is a belief that the new royal college must reflect the many diverse interests within the profession, should not be dominated by any one section and that membership should be as wide as possible, for example, including pharmaceutical scientists.
Mr Dickson adds that it is crucial that the royal college has a secure financial base and suggests that a project board should be set up to take this forward. “If the consensus at the seminar is to be maintained, that board will need to reflect the full range of organisations and interests that will come together to create the new royal college,” he writes.
The report says that, at the seminar, Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer for England, emphasised that it is essential not to waste time in disputes over assets and other arguments. He said that Lord Carter’s working party is coming to the view that the new leadership body and the General Pharmaceutical Council should be established simultaneously, possibly in 2010 or 2011.
This, he added, means that there is not much time to get it reasonably right and to convince pharmacists of the value of a royal college.
Hemant Patel, President of the Society, argued that the Society is uniquely and strongly placed to fulfil the royal college role but emphasised that it does not want to do this in isolation, says the report. This is further evidenced in a statement, issued by the Society last week, in which it pledges to work with the Pharmaceutical Society of NorthernIreland and other pharmacy bodies to help to create a royal college for the pharmacy profession. Mr Patel said that the Society is writing to a large number of pharmacy bodies to invite them to engage with it and to explore the potential principles and functions of a royal college. A one-day event is also planned for late April. “Very importantly, we will be consulting the Society’s members and inviting their views too,” he added.
“Professional leadership in pharmacy: exploring the case for a royal college for the pharmacy profession” is availableon the King’s Fund website (www.kingsfund.org.uk).