Welsh Pharmacy Board meeting: 10 September 2019

At the latest Royal Pharmaceutical Society Welsh Pharmacy Board meeting, discussions revolved around plans for the future of pharmacy in Wales and the launch of Pharmacy Learning Complete.

Suzanne Scott-Thomas, chair of the Welsh Pharmacy Board

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS’s) Welsh Pharmacy Board (WPB) gathered on 10 September 2019 at the RPS offices in Pontprennau, Cardiff.

Present at the meeting were Paul Bennett and Sandra Gidley, chief executive and president of the RPS, respectively; Robbie Turner, director of pharmacy and member experience at the RPS, Ross Gregory, head of external relations at RPS Wales; and Gino Martini, the Society’s chief scientist. Guests at the meeting were Sue Morgan, national director and strategic programme lead for primary and community care in Wales, and Anna Burgess, a member of the Society.

Apologies were received from board member Paul Harris.

Directorate update

For the meeting, Turner took on the role of acting director for RPS Wales. Former director Mair Davies will return to the role for the final three months of 2019, ahead of Elen Jones taking up the position permanently in January 2020.

The Society has got to get better at translating the vision and mission for different groups of members

Turner said that a board working day, held at the RPS’s London offices, had been “very productive” and that one of the major themes of discussion had been membership retention, especially in early career stages. The Society has “got to get better at translating the vision and mission” for different groups of members, such as preregistration trainees, he said.

At the working day, the boards had also discussed policy activity for 2020, particularly around workplace pressures, digital technology and, preparing for the future workplace.

Suzanne Scott-Thomas, chair of the WPB, reminded the board that the RPS has relaunched its mentoring service, and asked board members to consider registering as mentors as “we all have something to offer”.

Chair’s update

Scott-Thomas said that on 2 September 2019, she had represented the RPS at a Welsh government advisory board on Brexit, which had also been attended by Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW) and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, amongst others.

Additionally, Scott-Thomas said that the Royal College of General Practitioners in Wales had asked to meet the RPS to “look at what can we do together around medicines shortage issues”. 

‘A healthier Wales’

Gregory gave an update on how the findings of ‘A healthier Wales: long-term plan for health and social care’— a government-commissioned vision for the future of pharmacy in Wales — will be communicated to pharmacists and other stakeholders. The Welsh Pharmaceutical Committee (WPC) were tasked with developing the vision, and the WPC asked the RPS in Wales to project manage the creation of a document encompassing the future vision.

Gregory said that at a meeting with the WPC on 8 July 2019, it had been agreed that the RPS would take responsibility for communicating the vision to RPS members and stakeholders. The WPC will communicate to community pharmacists; chief pharmacists will share with NHS pharmacy staff in the managed sector and primary care, and the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK will be responsible for communicating to technicians across all sectors.

To date, every RPS member in Wales has received an email about the vision. Social media promotion is ongoing, and he said short video blogs, or ‘vlogs’, are being created which will be shared on social media during autumn 2019, he said.

Pharmacy Learning Complete

Tony Scully, publisher at Pharmaceutical Journal Publications, joined the meeting by Skype to provide an update on Pharmacy Learning Complete: a new digital learning platform developed for schools of pharmacy. It features full content from 58 core pharmacy textbooks alongside new, specially commissioned learning material.

We should be looking at educational content in a more digital way

The platform was developed partly in response to a global decline in print sales of books, and rise in print costs, meaning it is increasingly “hard to justify the business case for new titles”. It was also prompted by a review of the needs of pharmacy schools, “to understand the learning environment, and how they were sharing content with students”.

Scully added that schools told the RPS that “we should be looking at educational content in a more digital way”. 

The business case for Pharmacy Learning Complete was made and approved by the RPS Assembly in 2017. Over the past year, Scully explained how the team behind the platform has been “developing the full product and building relationships in pharmacy schools” and the final product has now been launched.

“What really excites me is we go digital first,” Scully told the board, saying that print books can take between 12—18 months to develop from commission to first draft. As part of the new platform, smaller pieces of content “more akin to chapters”, can be commissioned which is “more agile and responsive to needs”.

The model also means that “the student no longer pays for content (i.e. a textbook) — the school pays [for the platform] per head”.

To date, Scully said that three pharmacy schools have tested the product as part of development contacts with the Society. The Society is now offering free trials of the platform and Scully asked the board to “spread the word” with their academic contacts.

Board member Cheryl Way asked if the platform could be “accessed outside academia: for example, during a preregistration?” Scully responded that at the moment, the platform is purely for pharmacy schools, “but we have several ideas we want to explore … we do want to develop it outside the core market”.

Finally, Sue Morgan, national director and strategic programme lead for primary and community care in Wales, gave an update on the ‘Strategic Programme for Primary Care’, a two-year strategic programme developed in response to ‘A healthier Wales’. Morgan spoke about how ‘Pharmacy: Delivering a Healthier Wales’ can support the programme, with key messages including the need to join up health and social care; to shift services out of hospitals into the community, and to invest in new technologies.

  • The next WPB meeting will be held on 5 February 2020
Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, November 2019, Vol 303, No 7931;303(7931)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20207160

You may also be interested in