Initial responses from pharmacy groups to the Clarke Inquiry’s report into a future professional body for pharmacy, although positive, have highlighted concerns over how the proposed changes will be put into effect.
Catherine Duggan, United Kingdom Clinical Pharmacy Association chairman and Royal Pharmaceutical Society Council election candidate, said that the purpose, focus and function for a new professional body set out by Nigel Clarke in his report were ambitious and laudable.
“The UKCPA would be interested in taking a lead on the committee of specialist interest groups with others to ensure these aims are achieved,” she said.
However, she believes that the structural changes and practical implications recommended in the report do not fully support the inquiry’s vision for a new organisation.
“These tend to focus on retaining much of the status quo and retaining the existing sectors and groupings: a risk when taking soundings from the profession rather than considering the functions of a radical new body,” she stated.
She added that opportunities for pharmacy arising from last week’s White Paper (see p423) would require barriers between sectors and groups within the profession to be broken down.
“We need a new organisation that takes the best of all our groups and specialisms,” Dr Duggan said. “If we are not brave enough now, we could end up with something very similar to what we currently have, rather than a body that is fit for purpose and that provides true and effective leadership.”
Dr Duggan also believes the Society’s name needs to change: “Calling the leadership body a royal college would allow us to retain what is good about the current Society and also fully incorporate the good work of other organisations. This would provide the change we need to move forward and reassure some within the profession that this is real change rather than a rebadging exercise for the sake of change.”
Speaking for the Institute for Pharmacy Management International, general secretary Howard McNulty said: “Implementation of the Clarke report in an 18-month timescale will be a major challenge for the many different groups to put flesh on the skeleton outlined in the proposals. The IPMI looks forward to working with the Society and others to help meet this challenge.”
Nevertheless, he said the report’s recommendation that offering management advice be considered by the professional body “does not fully cover the role we envisaged or submitted in our evidence”. The IPMI, he explained, sees the need for the professional body to develop pharmacy managerial standards and qualifications, as well as providing access to education, training and continuing professional development support to meet management competencies.
The College of Pharmacy Practice has confirmed that the recommendations are broadly in line with its views: “We are particularly pleased with the recommendation that a transitional committee should be established to oversee preparation for the new professional body and we look forward to working with colleagues from the Society and other organisations on this.”
The Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK welcomed the report’s recommendation that the new professional body should embrace the whole “pharmacy family”, including registered pharmacy technicians, and the British Oncology Pharmacy Association was pleased to see a committee of special interest groups among the inquiry’s suggestions.
The UKCPA, IPMI, CPP, BOPA and APTUK were among the organisations that supported the “Waterloo agreement” — a consensus statement on joint working towards a new professional body — in March 2007 (PJ, 31 March 2007, p357). The organisations plan to meet again on 14 April 2008.