National pharmacy board meeting: 9 November 2023

The English, Scottish and Welsh national pharmacy boards met jointly for their final meeting of 2023 to discuss leadership changes and the RPS's inclusion and diversity work.
Photo of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society's London headquarters at dusk

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) three national pharmacy boards held a joint meeting at the RPS headquarters in London on 9 November 2023.

Opening the joint board meeting in the morning, Geraldine McCaffrey, chair of the Welsh Pharmacy Board (WPB), welcomed board members, guests and observers.

Apologies were received from Tamara Cairney, Andrew Carruthers, Lucy Dixon, Jacqueline Sneddon, Bayo Adegbite and Richard Evans.

Leadership structures and the country teams

Paul Bennett, chief executive of the RPS, gave an update about leadership at the RPS since Neville Carter chief education and membership officer left in October 2023. Carter was the first to hold the role, which Bennett said was intended to bring together the complementary functions of membership and education.

He added that after Carter left it had been important to take actions “around stabilising the organisation, particularly from a team perspective” and Karen Baxter, managing director of the RPS editorial team, and Rick Russell, chief operating officer at the RPS, had stepped in to offer executive support.  

Russell has been providing advice and support to Neal Patel, head of digital marketing and communications at the RPS, who is leading membership activity.

“I would say that the emphasis has been on providing some clarity, certainty and I hope effective support for colleagues in that function having lost their executive director,” Bennett explained.

Also, Bennett announced that Wing Tang, head of professional standards at the RPS, would take the lead in considering patient safety in all the organisation’s work. His new role will be head of professional guidance, standards and patient safety, reporting into Elen Jones, RPS director for Wales.

“That builds on very strong great work that Elen has been doing over recent times born out of an ability to be able to demonstrate to those who might commission work, especially the Welsh government, about what role the RPS can play,” Bennett said. “There has been some great work we’ve been doing on prisons and hospitals – all of which requires a very strong element of professional standards, requirements and patient insight and influence, so having that combination is very logical and makes great sense.”

Bennett added that the Luther Pendragon review, an independent review of engagement and communication with members commissioned in 2022, had identified an opportunity and need to improve how the RPS engaged with its members effectively.

In order to improve member engagement, three new regional leads have been appointed for each country who will work with the country teams and Patel’s team “to start to get better traction about how we are engaging”.  The regional leads will be led by James Davies, director for England.

Also, Bennett said that Laura Wilson, director for Scotland, would lead on the RPS’ international activities and on supporting its work outside of Great Britain.

“The three country directors have each beyond their own countries, now got additional responsibility for the core important areas in the organisation,” Bennett said.

New appointments at the RPS

Bennett said that before deciding to recruit for the role of chief education and membership officer, he was waiting to see findings of a constitution governance review, which would be presented at the RPS Assembly meeting on 21–22 November 2023.

He announced two significant appointments in the RPS. Liz North has been appointed as new head of strategic communications, reporting to Bennett. North will look at the Luther Pendragon Report and the various challenges facing the RPS.

Also, Diane Ashiru-Oredope has been appointed as deputy chief scientist to strengthen the science and research functions of the RPS.

Patient safety and standards

Tang gave an overview of the work of the professional guidance team and how it relates to the work of the joint boards.

He said the structural change to the RPS meant the team “will be working much more closely with all three country teams and supporting the work plan of the national boards”.

One example Tang gave of how the team has worked to implement board policy is the RPS’ environmental sustainability policy, which was originally championed by the three RPS pharmacy boards. This formed the basis for the RPS Greener Pharmacy Guidance, which is currently out to consultation and is due to be launched in 2024.

Inclusion and diversity

Amandeep Doll, head of professional belonging at the RPS, gave an update on the Society’s new engagement model, which focuses on professional belonging, engagement, and awareness.

Doll said that an engagement model had been agreed on at the meeting of the English Pharmacy Board (EPB) on 20 September 2023 and a team was now being recruited. Doll would report to Davies and would manage three engagement leads who are expected to work part time.

She highlighted the work the RPS is doing around the differential attainment experienced by black pharmacy students and foundation trainees, which she said involved “open honest conversations and also hearing about workforce challenges if you don’t want to shy away from those difficult conversations and continuing to celebrate the contributions of diverse groups”.

Doll also celebrated the success of an RPS event for Black History Month in October 2023 with the theme of saluting our sisters, “showcasing fabulous women, black women in pharmacy”.

She added: “We really wanted it to be an event for black people, about black people and we hopefully managed to achieve that.”

Going forward, Doll said the RPS planned to engage more with pharmacy students and foundation training providers “to make sure people know what the RPS does, what we provide and why they should be a member”.

International updates

Claire Anderson, president of the RPS, gave an update about her experience at the International Pharmacy Federation (FIP) world congress, which took place in Brisbane, Australia from 24 to 28 September 2023.

FIP represents 154 organisations, academic institutions and individuals across the world, including more than 4 million pharmacists, pharmacy educators and pharmaceutical scientists, which Anderson said was why she believed it was important that the RPS in involved.

Anderson shared that Paul Sinclair, a community pharmacy owner from Australia, has become the new FIP president following the death of previous president Dominique Jordan in August 2023. Sinclair has previously chaired FIP’s board of pharmacy practice.

Continuing her update, Anderson said she was “particularly pleased” that FIP had published a new environmental sustainability statement for pharmacy and had “pushed that it was something that all the different parts of FIP should get involved with.”

Anderson ran two sessions at the congress — one on independent prescribing one on mentoring, which she said were both well-received.

During this session, there was also an update from Victoria Rutter, chief executive of the Commonwealth Pharmacists Association (CPA) about the work of the association, which covers 56 countries and a third of the global population.

Rutter explained that the CPA was born out of the RPS in 1969 “as a way to leverage strengths across the commonwealth and help the pharmacy profession” and became an independent charity in 2015. The charity’s strategic goals are workforce capability building, health system strengthening and advocacy for pharmacy.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, December 2023, Vol 311, No 7980;311(7980)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.284907

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