The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) annual general meeting was held at its London offices on 10 April 2019, with staff and members of the RPS in Scotland and Wales joining the meeting by videolink.
Attendees heard from Paul Bennett, chief executive of the RPS, who talked about how 2018 had seen the embedding of the Society’s new executive structure, and its vision and mission “starting to come to life”.
“Data and insights are driving more of our actions,” he explained, going on to talk about 2018 as a “year of delivery”, with the hosting of the International Pharmaceutical Federation congress in Glasgow in September; the relaunch of
in May, including the acquisition of the Palliative Care Formulary in August and the publication of the Martindale’s Adverse Drug Reactions Checker in December.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society will continue work to be open, embrace diversity, and be inclusive
Bennett also praised the development of revalidation support tools, adding that the Society’s publishing arm is going “from strength to strength”.
Nevertheless, Bennett explained how the RPS is still on a journey and there is more to do. He said it will continue to work to “be open, embrace diversity, and be inclusive”, and will “unite across pharmacy organisations, with a shared purpose”.
Meanwhile, Mahendra Patel, member of the RPS English Pharmacy Board (EPB) and treasurer for the Society, said auditors had given a “clean bill of health” to the RPS accounts for the eighth year running.
Simon Redman, director of finance and corporate services, went on to explain how science was high on the Society’s agenda in 2018, with the appointment of Gino Martini as chief scientist in January 2018, and a stronger focus on education.
The Society also initiated its corporate social responsibility programme across the three nations in 2018, in part focusing on schools and education and “empowering young people to aspire and achieve science-based careers”, Redman said.
The Society invested £4.3m into various services in 2018, Redman explained: £2.3m into membership, covering revalidation support, local engagement, science and education, member website improvements and the new RPS Scotland headquarters. A total of £1.3m was invested in publishing; £0.5m in technology; and £0.1m each into the People team — formerly known as human resources — and GDPR compliance.
Over the course of 2018, the Society brought in total revenues of £23.6m. Print and digital publishing accounted for £2.4m and £8.8m of this, respectively. There was an operating loss of £0.3m (before adjustments to the accounts, related to accelerated depreciation of assets), compared to a profit of £0.4m in 2017; a figure Redman explained was because of an increase in 2018 on salary costs and can be regarded as a success because the Society is now operating on a fuller staff complement. The net assets of the Society are £29m.
When Ash Soni, president of the RPS, opened the floor to questions, member Kishan Vyas asked how the Society’s revenue from membership breaks down per sector, adding that many pharmaceutical scientists “do not see how the Society supports them”.
If we can demonstrate our relevance through our support and services, we will continue to grow our membership
Responding, Robbie Turner, director of pharmacy and member experience, said that the industrial pharmacists’ forum is continuing to grow and highlighted the Society’s new web hub on ‘How to get a job in the pharmaceutical industry’.
Adding to this, Bennett said that the RPS was hearing from increasing numbers of graduates who wanted to explore opportunities outside of the “traditional” sectors. Soni said that the RPS would be very happy to hear from members who would like to help them develop this area.
When asked about what was being done to increase membership, Bennett assured that an awful lot is being done.
“If we can demonstrate our relevance through our support and services, we will continue to grow our membership,” he said, adding that a detailed workplan exists around this, especially in Turner’s directorate but across the whole organisation.
Two motions were moved during the meeting, both of which were presented by Yousaf Ahmed on behalf of Mohammed Hussain, both RPS members. The first motion proposed: “The governance review recommendations should include a membership consultation on proposed changes and changes put to a confirmatory members vote.” Ahmed said that membership involvement and participation is vital to achieving the Society’s vision, but also in making members feel a part of the Society.
Martin Astbury, a member of both the RPS EPB and the Assembly, said he was supportive of the motion in principle, but warned that it would not offer value for the Society’s money to put minor “housekeeping” matters out for consultation.
Nine members voted in favour of the motion and thirteen against.
Ahmed’s second motion proposed: “No member shall be elected to a national board or Assembly for more than two terms. This motion should be effective retrospectively.”
â€¯John McAnaw, chair of the RPS Scottish Pharmacy Board member of the RPS Assembly, said he partly â€¯agreed but would suggest amending so that no more than two terms should be undertaken without a break. Currently, there is no limit on the number of consecutive terms a member may serve.
Sandra Gidley, chair of the RPS EPB and a member of the Assembly, said that she agreed with fixed terms but, in her view, two terms do not give enough time for board members to fully develop their leadership role.â€¯
She added that she had a problem with the retrospective aspect â€¯of the motion, stating: “Good legislation is never retrospective.”â€¯â€¯
In response to the views presented, Ahmed withdrew the second motion but said that he was “grateful for the points made”, adding that it was “good to know that support, at least in principle, is there”.
Ahmed also requested that the RPS provide more information on how motions should be undertaken.â€¯
Although one motion was withdrawn and one failed to pass, Soni said that it was “very important, from the Society’s perspective, to hear these views”, and reassured Ahmed that the Society “does not discard what â€¯you have â€¯said”.