The Royal Pharmaceutical Society: what’s happening in the first half of 2020?

The Pharmaceutical Journal looks ahead at some of the campaign work, educational development, and support for the profession expected from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society before summer 2020.

What is happening in the first half of 2020

It is shaping up to be another busy year for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), with the publishing of inclusion and diversity survey results; a roundtable on wellbeing in the pharmacy profession; national pharmacy board elections; and the curriculum for a nationwide training programme set to happen by the summer.

On 14 January 2020, the Society took over responsibility for the centralised approval of new consultant pharmacist posts in England and Wales. Prior to that, any new posts were approved through a regional process. Consultant pharmacist credentialing is part of a wider programme of work to support the recognition of post-registration levels of practice supported by the UK Pharmacy Education Governance Oversight Board.

In March 2020, the RPS will publish its strategy report on inclusion and diversity in pharmacy, as part of an ongoing campaign chaired by Asif Sadiq, head of inclusion, diversity and belonging for the Telegraph Media Group. The strategy report will be backed by data from responses to a survey conducted between 28 August 2019 and 11 September 2019, and will incorporate feedback from a workshop held on 4 November 2019.

The survey found that more than half (56%) of the 839 survey respondents thought that more should be done to support pharmacists with disabilities and 38% of respondents felt that more could be done to support inclusion and diversity related to race. Around a quarter (24%) considered age to be a career barrier, and around one in five (21%) said that pregnancy and maternity created barriers to career advancement.

Speaking at the RPS’s annual conference on 17 November 2019, Paul Bennett, chief executive of the RPS, pledged that the Society would publish its ethnicity pay data by summer 2020, adding that the organisation must “walk the talk” when it comes to inclusion and diversity.

The full results of the RPS’s and Pharmacist Support’s workforce wellbeing survey will also be published in spring 2020. The survey was conducted between 10 October 2019 and 8 November 2019, as part of the two bodies’ joint campaign to ensure more support for the mental health and wellbeing of pharmacists.

Initial results of the survey showed that four out of five respondents (80%) felt they were at ‘high’ or ‘very high’ risk of burnout through exhaustion, and more than half said that their heavy workload meant they could not spend as much time with family or friends as they would like. Just under half (44%) of the respondents said that they worried about making mistakesor providing a poor-quality service to their patients.

The RPS said that the findings will be used to back up calls for all pharmacists to have access to NHS-funded wellbeing support services. Currently, only those pharmacists employed directly by the NHS are given access to this help, whereas all doctors and dentists have automatic access.

As well as publishing the survey findings, this spring the RPS and Pharmacist Support will hold a roundtable panel discussion with representatives of the NHS, government, employers and other stakeholders to explore solutions to the stress that many pharmacists are experiencing.

In April and May 2020, the national pharmacy board elections will take place. Members interested in standing for election can look at what existing board members have to say about the experience and view previous board reports to gain an insight into the type of work the boards carry out.

By summer 2020, the RPS also expects to have completed the curriculum for a nationwide, multi-sector pharmacy foundation training programme. As part of this process, the RPS will work with employers, education leaders and training providers. Later in 2020, assessment processes for the programme are expected to be published.

The idea for a nationwide programme was first suggested by the RPS in July 2017. At the 2019 RPS annual conference, Gail Fleming, director for education and professional development at the RPS, launched a framework for the foundation programme. This framework is intended to underpin the development of a future curriculum, syllabus and assessment for foundation pharmacists across the UK, the Society said.

The third annual RPS Science and Research Summit 2020 is taking place in London on 19 June 2020. Two parallel streams will explore themes around precision medicine and digital health. Confirmed speakers for this year include Dame Sue Hill, chief scientific officer at NHS England, and Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer for England. Those who would like to present an abstract at the conference must submit their work by 14 February 2020 and places to attend the event can be booked from March 2020.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, January 2020, Vol 304, No 7933;304(7933):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2020.20207507

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