The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Society’s London headquarters on 21 June 2018.
Ash Soni, president of the RPS, welcomed attendees to the meeting before handing over to chief executive Paul Bennett.
Sharing highlights of 2017, Bennett emphasised the new legal defence for inadvertent dispensing errors. The Society was, he said, delighted when it passed into law, although it had taken longer than hoped. “We will continue to fight for the same defence for all pharmacists, regardless of sector,” Bennett added, noting that the government had now opened a consultation on extending the defence to cover pharmacists working in other settings.
Other highlights of 2017, Bennett said, included success in seeing Welsh pharmacists being given access to the patient record; the antimicrobial stewardship campaign; tools and guidance that have been downloaded around 6,000 times; the latest BNF and associated app; the refresh of Medicines Complete; the 39th edition of the Martindale, which is now available in 140 countries, and the 41st edition of
Medicines, Ethics and Practice
, which was downloaded 45,000 times in 2017.
Finally, Bennett said the executive team had been re-organised to help the Society focus on its key priorities: members, staff, science and research, and education. As part of this refresh, three new directorships have been appointed: Gail Fleming as director of education, Robbie Turner as director of pharmacy and member experience and Jeremy MacDonald as director of technology. A director of innovation and enterprise was being recruited, Bennett said. One week later, on 28 June 2018, the RPS announced that Harvinder Sondh, who is currently director of marketing and product development at the RPS, had accepted the role.
Highlights from the national pharmacy boards
RPS Scotland now has 14 RPS Local coordinators across all 14 health boards, said John McAnaw, chair of the Scottish Pharmacy Board (SPB). To date, more than 1,000 pharmacists have registered for RPS Local events across Scotland.
McAnaw said that a pledge to support RPS Scotland’s manifesto, ‘Right medicine – better health – fitter future’, has now been signed by 43 MSPs: almost a third of parliament. McAnaw also highlighted the success of the 2017 Scottish National Seminar, the second such event to be held, which took place in Stirling on 30 September and 1 October 2017. Topics included mental health, pharmacy in care homes and chronic pain management, and delegates had the opportunity to attend a Faculty “speed-dating” networking event.
For 2018, RPS Scotland plans to extend digitalisation of RPS Local to further support members in remote and rural areas. There are also plans to refresh its 2012 report, ‘Improving pharmaceutical care in care homes’, with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Scotland, to update the ‘Joint policy statement on general practice based pharmacists’. A campaign will be launched later in 2018 with the strapline, “Good care starts with a conversation”, to explain why pharmacists ask patients the questions that they do.
Suzanne Scott-Thomas, chair of the Welsh Pharmacy Board, joined by video link from the Society’s offices in Cardiff. Political advocacy had formed a high point of 2017, she said, highlighting RPS Wales’ evidence to the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee’s inquiry into the use of antipsychotics in care homes. This led in part to the committee’s call, in May 2018, for a “systemic change” in the way these medicines are used. The first all-Wales research symposium was held in Bodelwyddan, north Wales, on 18 July 2017 and the 7th Welsh Medicines Safety Conference took place in Hensol, south Wales, on 29 November 2017.
During 2018, RPS Wales will be developing polices for palliative and end-of-life care, and will host the 8th Medicines Safety Conference in Cardiff on 22 November 2018. Scott-Thomas also noted that the Welsh government had recently published ‘A healthier Wales: our plan for health and social care’ and that long-term plans were being formed with this in mind.
Sandra Gidley, chair of the English Pharmacy Board, said RPS England had three priorities in 2017: advocacy, member engagement and campaigning. Advocacy included regular dialogue with primary care and public health minister Steve Brine and other MPs across the parties, and working with national bodies including NHS England, National Voices and the Patients Association. At the end of 2017, 1,009 pharmacists were working in GP surgeries, following a joint RPS England and RCGP initiative.
The GB-wide antimicrobial stewardship campaign was received positively by policymakers and MPs, Gidley said. Funding for pharmacists in care homes, announced in February 2018, was another campaign success. In 2018, RPS England will build on its long-term conditions campaign, with a focus on diabetes prevention and care. The Society will be working closely with NHS England for the first time on this, with the hope of helping sustainability and transformation partnerships make better use of pharmacists’ skills.
Simon Redman, director of finance and resources, reported that the RPS had achieved a small surplus in 2017, driven by “excellent results in pharmaceutical products sales”. Total revenue grew by 7% to £23.7m, before pension adjustments. The Society’s net worth at the end of 2017 was £28.9m.
In 2018, he said, the Society will invest £3.2m internally. Large parts of this will go into in member services (£0.9m); publishing (£1.5m) and technical development (£0.6m). The £0.9m set aside for member services will include revalidation support, local engagement, science and education. Redman said the Society recognised that investing £3.2m would make a dent in the 2018 profits, and accounted for this in the budget, but that the RPS was looking at a “sustainable trajectory of improvement” and he was confident the RPS would return to a consistent surplus.
Redman said that publishing profits had increased by £0.8m compared to the previous year. Book sales increased by 5% and digital income was up by £1.45m. Income from membership had remained constant.
The RPS has also decided to establish a corporate social responsibility strategy which, Redman said, should engage staff and members to make a difference to the local and wider community.
A series of presentations rounded off the meeting. Faculty pins were awarded to Renuka Gulati, Rafia Jamil, Vikesh Kakad, Anne-Marie Kitchen-Wheeler, Ceinwen Mannall and Nipa Patel. Certificates of Fellowship were awarded to those appointed in November 2017: in attendance at the AGM were Bugewa Apampa, Mohammed Ibrahim, Luvjit Kandula, Robert Lowe, Asgher Mohammed, Michael Pettit, Graham Stretch and James Wood. Honorary Fellowships were given to Sam Salek and David Taylor. Stewart Adams, who was unable to attend, also received an honorary Fellowship.
The meeting ended with the presentation of the RPS Charter Award to John D’Arcy, former managing director of Numark and chief executive of the National Pharmacy Association. The award is given by the RPS Assembly on recommendation from the president and Soni said of D’Arcy that “no one else has made such a direct impact on the day-to-day support that community pharmacists receive”.