The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) will no longer reserve seats on its English board for particular sectors of the profession in future elections, following approval from its governing body.
The RPS Assembly ratified a proposal put forward by the English Pharmacy Board to begin phasing out sectoral places on the board from 2016. It means candidates in future elections to the English board will contest all available seats equally, rather than candidates competing for particular seats representing different sectors of pharmacy.
The chair of the Eng
lish board, Sandra Gidley, insists the change ought not to lead one sector to dominate and says the board retains contingencies to ensure the whole profession is represented.
The Welsh board has chosen to retain sector-specific seats and, in June 2015, chair Mair Davies said the board thought this was “still the best system for Wales”. Scotland does not have sectoral seats.
In the May 20
15 elections in England, the only candidate nominated for the hospital place was elected unopposed and
there were no nomination
s for the industry seat. Both would have been filled by election had the sectoral system not been in place.
In addition, the then board chair David Branford lost his seat contesting an “any sector” place even though he polled more votes than a successful candidate running under a different sector.
Gidley says the decision to drop sectoral places had been taken to overcome “vagaries” in the electoral system. “If we’ve got excellent people standing a
nd then [we are] struggling to fill some places due to lack of interest, shouldn’t we be opening it up so that anybody who is keen can campaign and get elected, and they don’t feel they need to restrict themselves to t
he year their sectoral place might be up?” she asks.
“We want the best and keenest people to come forward and we think it is healthy if there is an election for places. It comes down to trying to attract the biggest pool every year and ensuring that somebody doesn’t get knocked out even though they have a really high vote, just because of the vagaries of the election system.”
says board members usually regard themselves as representing the whole profession even if they were elected to represent a particular sector. She adds that although members were not consulted on the change, she believes the board is best placed to review and propose amendments to the electoral system and will aim to avoid one sector dominating. “We’re very keen to have representatives from all sectors and if it really doesn’t work I think we would revisit it. But the system as it was wasn’t entirely fit for purpose,” she says.
The new system will be in place for the May 2016 elections. Existing board members with sectoral seats will remain in place until they are due for election. Through natural turnover of places, the new system will be phased in over the next three years until all seats on the board are “unreserved” for a particular sector by 2018.
In June each year the English board will review whether its composition following the annual election period means it can continue to represent the full profession. The board retains the right to co-opt one pharmacist if it feels a sector is not well represented.