Community pharmacist Martin Astbury has been elected as the new Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) president. In an RPS Assembly meeting on 19 July 2016, Astbury was affirmed as the new president of the Society after being elected unopposed from the 11 board members on the Assembly – the board responsible for maintaining the organisational governance and financial management of the Society.
“I recognise my responsibility in pulling the profession together to ensure our broad church feels part of a bigger picture,” says Astbury as he enters his fifth term, following a two-year break, as RPS president. “I have an important role to play facilitating work between the boards, the Assembly, colleagues in the three countries and overseas, ensuring we make the whole of the Society greater than the sum of our parts.
“I will work tirelessly to support the profession making sure our development programmes, such as the RPS Faculty and RPS Foundation, help our members achieve their professional ambitions and become the very best practitioners they can be,” he adds.
The Assembly also elected David Thomson as the new RPS treasurer after Sid Dajani stepped down in June 2016.
On 22 June 2016, Ash Soni lost his position as president after the English Pharmacy board (EPB) failed to re-elect him to the RPS Assembly. Instead, Sibby Buckle, Sid Dajani, David Carter, Catherine Armstrong and Martin Astbury were chosen to represent the EPB on the Assembly.
These five EPB members joined Sandra Gidley and Claire Anderson, EPB chair and vice chair, respectively; John McAnaw, Scottish Pharmacy Board (SPB) chair and SPB member David Thomson; and Suzanne Scott-Thomas and Paul Harris, Welsh Pharmacy Board chair and vice chair, respectively, along with an appointed pharmaceutical scientist, Linda Hawkes; academic, Duncan Craig; and lay member, Hamish Wilson, to make up the RPS Assembly.
Each of the 11 national pharmacy board members on the Assembly were entitled to apply for the position of president, provided their nomination was seconded by another Assembly member and sent to the RPS chief executive, Helen Gordon, by 8 July 2016, along with a statement of up to 1,000 words highlighting how they would meet the demands of the role. In the case of more than one nomination, each of the Assembly members (including the appointed positions) would have been able to submit a vote on the date of the Assembly meeting for who they wished to see as RPS president. This time, however, Astbury was the only nomination to be received and consequently, with agreement from the Assembly, he was elected to the position of RPS president unopposed.
“As I hand over to a new president, I do so with a sense of pride borne from the Society’s achievements over the past two years,” says Astbury’s predecessor Ash Soni. “With a new five-year strategy published this year and a fabulous new home for the profession, we are at the beginning of a new chapter of the Society’s development. I would also like to thank the many pharmacists who have expressed their good wishes to me in recent weeks, I am humbled and touched by your kind words.”
Astbury has been a member of the English Pharmacy Board since 2007. He was vice president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) between 2007 and 2010, prior to the demerger, and served as RPS president for first four years after the demerger in 2010, after which he was succeeded by Soni in July 2014.