The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS’s) three national pharmacy boards held their first meeting of the year virtually on 2 February 2022.
Apologies were received from Kathleen Cowle of the Scottish Pharmacy Board (SPB), and Dylan Jones and Elly Thomas of the Welsh Pharmacy Board (WPB).
Country-specific visions: an update
Elen Jones, RPS director for Wales, reminded attendees that the vision ‘Pharmacy: delivering a healthier Wales‘ had been published in 2019. The RPS in Wales had worked with the Welsh Pharmaceutical Committee to create the vision, which set out several intermediate goals for 2022, including that 30% of community pharmacies would have an independent prescriber actively providing services and that all pharmacy team members will be ‘Dementia friends’. These goals were now being reviewed to assess progress, Jones said.
She added that RPS Wales had been asked to develop the next set of interim goals towards 2025, which will include working with focus groups, patient groups, third sector groups and other royal colleges. Jones said that, in May 2022, “we will do some core goal setting and then some consultation around those goals”, with a view to launching a Welsh vision for 2025 at the end of September 2022.
Clare Morrison, RPS director for Scotland, noted that ‘Pharmacy 2030: a professional vision‘, which describes a vision for all pharmacy sectors by 2030, would be published later that day. The vision was, Morrison said, the culmination of nearly a year’s work, including three consultations, and was co-produced with the National Pharmacy Technician Group Scotland and pharmacy teams in “all settings across Scotland, including education, academia, research and industry”.
Morrison expressed thanks “to everyone who has contributed and helped — this belongs to each and every person who took part”.
Ravi Sharma, RPS director for England, said that plans for an English vision for 2030 are “in initial stages, subject to further discussions and engagement”, with hope to progress in 2022 to “deliver the highest quality of care to patients and the public now and in future”.
Sharma added that it was an important time in England, including: rebuilding beyond the COVID-19 pandemic; 2026 bringing the first cohort of pharmacists who are independent prescribers upon registration; NHS England reforms; and the development of integrated care system functions.
Sibby Buckle, English Pharmacy Board (EPB) member, asked “how we are ensuring we share a vision across Great Britain” around common elements of practice? Sharma responded that there will be “nuances and similarities” between the three national visions and that the national teams are “working closely and sharing ideas”.
Andre Yeung, EPB member and Assembly treasurer, asked what is being done to “ensure visions get traction and the outputs we desire?”. Jones responded that, in Wales, members of the WPB sit independently on the Welsh government’s Delivery Board for ‘Pharmacy: delivering a healthier Wales’, and the RPS is an observer. Jones noted that the Welsh Pharmacy Partnership, which brings together stakeholders, including Community Pharmacy Wales, to steer the vision, provides monthly updates and that the vision is “very much a live document”. Morrison added that the stakeholder engagement in the development of the Scottish vision meant it was more likely that asks would be taken forward after launch.
Martin Astbury, vice-chair of the RPB, said it was the boards’ responsibility to drive delivery nationally, adding that “we want the same spine running through all visions, but slightly tweaked as some things will be delivered differently because of government structures and commissioning”.
Sharma introduced the Society’s pharmacogenomics plan for 2022, noting that at, a previous board meeting, it had been agreed that the initial focus would be on personalised medicines. Ultimately, a pharmacogenomics position statement will be published, alongside a dedicated pharmacogenomics RPS webpage for members and the profession. The boards were asked to review the objectives for 2022, set out in meeting papers, and consider whether this was the right direction.
Sharma said that, in 2022, the focus would be on the policy perspective, working with policymakers and other healthcare bodies. Patient engagement, he added, can be done collaboratively with other organisations, but “this year, we will be targeting policymakers and helping them shape what the future looks like”.
Tracey Thornley, EPB member, said it was important to “normalise [pharmacogenomics] and learn from the Netherlands, who have been doing this for years, how to integrate it into everyday practice”.
Lola Dabiri, SPB member, supported the plans, noting that “educating ourselves” is a priority and that pharmacists should lead on “getting information out there quickly”, going on to say that: “It is not just about oncology, it is relevant across the board.” Dabiri also suggested that implementation strategies and schemes be piloted in community pharmacy.
Adding his support, SPB member John McAnaw said that “further down the line, undergraduate education is going to be important” and that the Society has a role in advising and helping further develop undergraduate programmes. Claire Anderson, president of the RPS, noted that many undergraduate courses have already integrated pharmacogenomics into the curriculum.
Dabiri, Thornley and SPB member Jacqueline Sneddon volunteered to advise and support on the delivery of the 2022 objectives.
Morrison noted that, for 2022, workforce issues have been selected as a defined workstream, which includes developing a workforce policy to support and retain the current workforce, and to encourage more people into pharmacy as a career. RPS Scotland’s position statement, published in December 2021, recognised that workforce is under considerable pressure and included several actions on preventative measures, Morrison said.
The boards moved into breakout rooms to discuss the priorities for the Society in this workstream. Astbury highlighted protected learning time and rest breaks, adding that “learning time should be paid regardless of where you work. As a professional body, is appropriate for us to say that people should be remunerated”.
Mary Evans, EPB member, said that “from a hospital perspective, the ask is getting greater all the time, as is the number of patients”, adding that there are “not enough pharmacists; we have breaks, but people don’t always take them”. Evans asked: “Are we working as effectively as possible with technology? We need to embrace [artificial intelligence]: it is the only way we are going to manage people’s wellbeing and patients’ requirements.”
Summing up the Scottish board’s views, Andrew Carruthers, chair of the SPB, said that the Society should continue to apply pressure “as the workforce group being set up by Scotland’s chief pharmaceutical officer Alison Strath is developed; and must ensure the [RPS inclusion and wellbeing] pledge is being put into practice, and look at the expectations of multidisciplinary teams and how we can influence those”.
Cheryl Way, chair of the WPB, said the Society was involved with a Health Education and Improvement Wales group “in terms of short-term things we can do”, which is “aware of concerns from all sectors”.
“Wellbeing is a big thing and the pressure on everyone is unrelenting. All are in favour of the position statement.”
Thorrun Govind, chair of the EPB, noted that “the funding issue has not gone away in England”, adding that there is a “notion that there is a shortage, but people are also leaving sector for a variety of reasons”, and that it is important that “new pharmacists come into a pleasant environment”.
Events for 2022
Hanna Jenvey, head of event operations at the RPS, told attendees that the RPS 2022 annual conference will take place on 11 November 2022 at etc. venues in London, on the theme of the ‘Future of pharmacy’. Jenvey added that for the 2022 annual conference and the 2022 Science and Research Summit, scheduled for 24 June 2022, people will, at the point of registration, be offered a choice of how they want to engage: either remotely or in person.
England open business
Number of nominees for candidates
Finally, in open business for the EPB, members discussed whether to reduce the number of nominations currently needed to stand for election to the EPB. At the moment, ten nominations are required and Govind asked board members if this should be retained, reduced to five or reduced to an alternate number if there was “appropriate reasoning”. It was noted that, in Scotland, three nominees are required, and one nominee in Wales.
Buckle said that, in her view, the current situation was “inequitable, as one nominee in Wales has equal voice in the organisation — [she] would support five”. Evans agreed that “ten is too many”, saying that people “earlier in their career may struggle”. Tase Oputu, EPB member, concurred, adding that she would be happy to reduce the number to five or three.
Astbury said that, while he “can live with lower, I feel that ten should be the number”, adding that “engaging is so vital that if you can’t engage with ten people before standing, you may not be the right person for the job”. Yeung agreed that “ten is about right”, and that he “spoke to a hundred people when [he] ran for election”.
Asked to vote on whether five or ten nominees should be required, six board members supported a reduction to five nominees, and eight board members supported keeping the current requirement for ten. Therefore, Govind said, “the status quo shall remain”.
The date of the next joint open national pharmacy boards meeting was set for 21 June 2022.