RPS annual review reports 5.4% rise in core membership

The RPS annual review, released on 27 May 2016, outlines the Society’s major milestones and achievements in 2015

Cover of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society's (RPS) annual review 2015

The number of members and Fellows of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) grew by 5.4% in 2015, the fifth year after the organisation demerged its professional leadership and regulatory functions, according to figures released in the RPS annual review on 27 May 2016. This figure contributes to a 0.6% overall increase in total number of paying members of the Society recorded in 2015. 

The annual review, which outlines the RPS’s major milestones and achievements in 2015, also reveals that by the end of the year, 95% of students and more than 85% of preregistration pharmacists in Great Britain (GB) were members of the RPS. At the end of 2015 the RPS market share was 55% of the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) GB registrants compared with 54% in 2014 (despite the GPhC register growing by 3.2%). 

In an introduction to the review, Ash Soni, president of the RPS, and Helen Gordon, chief executive, say: “As the RPS marked its fifth anniversary in 2015, all sectors of pharmacy continued to face significant challenges.”

Source: Simon Wright / The Pharmaceutical Journal

“As the RPS marked its fifth anniversary in 2015, all sectors of pharmacy continued to face significant challenges,” says president of the RPS, Ash Soni, in the introduction to the 2015 RPS annual review. 

“The need for strong, progressive leadership, support and services from a forward thinking and dynamic professional body has never been greater,” they add.

A major change for the Society in 2015 was the move of its London headquarters from Lambeth to East Smithfield, which will save the RPS £0.4m a year in running costs. It included the relocation of thousands of items held in the RPS museum, which is due to open to the public during 2016.

Source: Royal Pharmaceutical Society

A major change for the Society in 2015 was the move of its London headquarters from Lambeth to East Smithfield (pictured)

“2015 was the year we said goodbye to Lambeth and relocated to our fantastic new headquarters,” explain Soni and Gordon. “The building showcases the Society’s proud history and leading role within the pharmaceutical profession.”

Campaigning for pharmacists

In 2015, the RPS campaigned for new roles for pharmacists across Scotland, Wales and England. All three countries pushed for pharmacists’ read and write access to patient records. Although pharmacists do not yet have write access, read access to the summary care record is due to be rolled out in England by March 2017.

In March 2015, the English Pharmacy Board (EPB) launched its ‘Pharmacists in GP surgeries’ campaign, a drive that was followed by £31m worth of funding from NHS England to facilitate pharmacists working in GP surgeries.

“We now have over 400 pharmacists working in GP surgeries, which is really exciting,” says Sandra Gidley, chair of the EPB. “We ran a number of masterclasses and we had to put on more because the interest from pharmacists was so great. This is a sign of things to come: pharmacists using more of their clinical knowledge to the greater benefit of patients,” she adds.

Source: Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board, Sandra Gidley, says the number of pharmacists now working in GP practices as a result of their campaigning is “really exciting”. 

The Scottish Pharmacy Board (SPB) produced a joint pharmacy submission with Community Pharmacy Scotland and the NHS directors of pharmacy on the Scottish government’s ‘Review of out-of-hours provision in primary care’.

“It was a major achievement for pharmacy for all three bodies to put together comprehensive and detailed input to that review and it was very well received,” says John McAnaw, chair of the SPB. “We’ve also been doing some partnership work with NHS Education for Scotland (NES), exploring vocational training and how that might be more accessible for pharmacists working in Scotland.”

In addition, RPS Scotland’s policy paper on seven-day working, which was described in the annual review as a highlight of the organisation’s comprehensive policy work in 2015, was submitted as written evidence to the Scottish Parliament Health and Sport Committee’s evidence-taking session on the same topic.

In 2015, RPS Wales and Scotland were occupied with developing their manifestos ahead of the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament elections, respectively, that were held on 5 May 2016. The Welsh manifesto, ‘Steps to better health and well being’, called for the establishment of a pharmacy-led Welsh chronic medication service; pharmacist access to individual health records; and fully integrated pharmacist expertise into NHS multidisciplinary teams. RPS Wales also began work with the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales to improve medicines use in care homes.

“The work builds on our vision document ‘Your care, your medicine’, which is a collaborative document we produced with a number of pharmacy groups,” says Suzanne Scott-Thomas, chair of the Welsh Pharmacy Board. “It underpins a lot of the work we’ve been doing, and has been a very welcomed document in Wales.”

‘Right medicine – better health – fitter future’, RPS Scotland’s manifesto, outlined four areas to help build on the role of pharmacists in the multidisciplinary healthcare team: integrating pharmacists into emerging health hubs; positioning pharmacists at the point of admission to hospital; having a dedicated pharmacist in care homes; and implementing the outcomes of the out-of-hours report on the future of community pharmacy.

The two countries have been engaging with Assembly members and Scottish members of Parliament, respectively, over the past months to help build support for their respective manifestos.

Providing medicines information


Source: Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Facts and figures highlighted in the RPS annual review 2015 

The RPS has seen many developments in its publishing division. In September 2015, Pharmaceutical Press launched the redesigned British National Formulary (BNF) to give healthcare professionals faster and easier access to drug information. “This will better facilitate digital production for the future, improve user experience, and bring information into one place in the print format,” say Soni and Gordon. The RPS team is also working on a BNF app, which is due to be launched in 2016.

“2015 was a year of change, producing a completely reformatted BNF and BNFC and continuing the improvements in the look and quality of The Pharmaceutical Journal in both print and online. And of course, 2015 saw the renewal of the NICE contract for a six-year period,” says Alina Lourie, managing director of Pharmaceutical Press. “We were pleased with our digital growth, in particular that of our flagship digital service MedicinesComplete, which grew by 18%.”

In October 2015, The Pharmaceutical Journal changed its print frequency from weekly to monthly and now all RPS members receive a copy of Clinical Pharmacist each month. In 2015, The Pharmaceutical Journal learned that it had received an award of excellence for its overall redesign in 2014. www.pharmaceutical-journal.com had 2.3 million unique visitors in 2015.

New content continues to be developed for Medicines Complete, including a new tool designed to help users answer drug interaction queries. A total of 21.5 million searches were conducted on Medicines Complete in 2015.

In addition to its publishing activities, the RPS supported the provision of medicines information through the funding of three research projects in 2015 related to improving the quality of drug information by Pharmacy Research UK (PRUK).

Professional support

As part of its professional support activities, the RPS certified 178 pharmacists across the UK to engage in research and evaluation activity through the RPS Research Ready Accreditation Programme. During 2015, the status of the RPS Faculty and Foundation programme continued to grow: 155 RPS members achieved membership or fellowship of the RPS Faculty in 2015 and there are more than 3,000 practitioners building their RPS Faculty portfolios.

A variety of new resources for members were also launched, including guidance on “specials” and unlicensed medicines, biosimilars, repeat medicines and sodium valproate. In 2015, the RPS website received 538,915 unique visitors (a 10.9% increase on 2014), Medicines, Ethics and Practice was downloaded 58,098 times, and 8,875 professional support enquiries were dealt with.

In their statement, Soni and Gordon emphasise that “the role [the RPS] is fulfilling is to ensure that pharmacists’ skills and talents are developed so that they can be the best they can be and ensure their development of expertise and impact in healthcare is recognised, across all settings and, crucially, by the public.”

Source: Simon Wright / The Pharmaceutical Journal

”The role [the RPS] is fulfilling is to ensure that pharmacists’ skills and talents are developed so that they can be the best they can be” says Helen Gordon, chief executive of the RPS. 

Looking forward to 2016

“2016 started on a note of challenge with the community pharmacy reforms,” says Gidley. “We will be lobbying to make sure the NHS makes the best possible use of community pharmacists. We also have the Carter reforms in hospital and an increased focus on the clinical focus of pharmacists. We will be doing all we can to equip our members for the future.”

“The good news is our launch of ‘The right medicine: improving care in care homes’ has been very well received and we will be pushing to make sure that is implemented,” she adds.

In 2016, one of RPS Scotland’s focus areas will be on securing protected learning time for pharmacists. “We’re also working jointly with NHS Education for Scotland, which we did in 2015, around the joint summit and in 2016 we’re looking to showcase collaborative working and innovative practice,” says McAnaw.

“In the autumn, we’re working with Healthcare Improvement Scotland, as well as Community Pharmacy Scotland, around roadshows we’ll take around the country to push the quality and patient safety agenda,” he adds.

“2016 has got off to a very good start,” says Scott-Thomas. “We launched our document on improving medicines use in care homes – we’ve had a lot of interest within Welsh government and that will be a major part of our work in 2016.

“We have had good success with Faculty engagement within the hospital sector, now we turn our attention to supporting community pharmacists, and in addition looking at Research Ready within community pharmacies. So it’s very much about supporting pharmacists to be the best they can be,” she adds.

To read the full annual review and hear more from the three board chairs, visit: www.rpharms.com/review2015 

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, May 2016, Vol 296, No 7889;296(7889):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20201128

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