The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) Welsh Pharmacy Board (WPB) held their second open meeting of the year at the Society’s Cardiff offices on 12 June 2019. Guests at the meeting included Paul Bennett and Ash Soni, chief executive and then president of the RPS, respectively; Robbie Turner, the Society’s director of pharmacy and member experience; Gail Fleming, director for education and professional development at the RPS; Gino Martini, chief scientist at the RPS; Nia Sainsbury, a medicines information pharmacist at Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend, and Simon Taylor, pharmacist at Boots, Newport.
Guest speakers were Mark Briggs, head of gene and cell therapy at the Welsh Blood Service, and Nia Evans, lead haematology pharmacist at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.
Election of chair and vice chair
Mair Davies, director for RPS Wales, welcomed attendees and announced that the first business of the day was to elect a new chair and vice chair. Suzanne Scott-Thomas, the current chair, was the only nominee for the post and, as such, was re-elected with immediate effect for a term of one year. She said she felt “privileged” to be re-elected, and also asked that the board “support a successor to become chair next year, and encourage and enable more of the WPB to step up to the chair and vice chair positions”.
Board members Jodie Gwenter and Cheryl Way were nominated for the post of vice chair. Way was elected by private ballot and will hold the post for two years.
Davies offered her thanks to outgoing vice chair Paul Harris, noting his valuable contributions to the board and the RPS Assembly. She added that Harris is part of the Assembly’s governance review group and will remain on the assembly until this work is completed.
Scott-Thomas noted that today marked Davies’ final board meeting, as she will retire as director for Wales in July 2019. Acknowledging the work Davies has done as director — and, before that, as vice chair and then chair of the WPB — Scott-Thomas offered the board’s “huge thanks for her contribution, guidance and leadership across all those roles, and for her passion and commitment to the RPS and the profession”.
Scott-Thomas then welcomed new board member Adam Mackridge, who was elected to take up the casual vacancy post in a primary care capacity. Mackridge was elected alongside returning member Jamie Hayes.
Directorate and business plan update
Davies noted that Elen Jones had been appointed as director for Wales, starting in January 2020. Although Davies retires as director in July 2019, she will return on an interim, part-time basis for three months at the end of 2019.
‘Pharmacy: delivering a healthier Wales’, a document describing a vision for Welsh pharmacy through to 2030, has been delivered to the Welsh Pharmaceutical Committee (WPC) for consideration by Vaughan Gething, minister for health and social services. RPS Wales was commissioned by the WPC to research and develop the document.
Davies also confirmed that Jodie Williamson, professional development and engagement lead at RPS Wales, was now the RPS relationship manager for the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association.
According to papers circulated ahead of the meeting, the WPB has responded to the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee’s inquiry into the provision of health and social care in the adult prison estate. In its response, numerous recommendations were made, not least a suggestion that a strategic NHS Wales team of full-time healthcare professionals be created, which it said should include a chief prison pharmacist or equivalent director of medicines optimisation in prisons. RPS Wales also contributed to the Society’s response to the General Pharmaceutical Council’s consultation on initial education and training standards for pharmacists. The Society welcomed the proposal for more integration between education and training, but said it would be “challenging” to implement such proposals without additional funding and resource.
Updated policy on e-cigarettes
The board then discussed a draft update to the Society’s policy on e-cigarettes, prepared by RPS Scotland after collating evidence published in the past two years. Introducing the draft, Martini said that some excipients — such as colourants — in e-cigarette liquids had not been tested for pulmonary use and that there is “a lot of concern about what’s going in them”.
Way said she felt the current draft was anti- e-cigarettes, rather than an impartial, straightforward evidence presentation and summary — a point that was also made by Scott-Thomas who said this tone “may be appropriate in light of the evidence, but the perception is [the draft] was negative”.
Board member Dylan Jones said several patients had asked his advice on e-cigarettes, including questioning him on whether flavoured liquids are bad for them.
Turner said this raised a good point. “We will need to do some practical guidance, a bit like the CBD oil guidance that we did recently,” he said, adding that any such guidance would “not necessarily tell you what you should do, but help people to have a thought process around risk mitigation”.
The draft will be reviewed by external stakeholders and then come back to the board in autumn 2019 for further feedback.
The meeting concluded with presentations from Briggs and Evans. In addition to his role at the Welsh Blood Service, Briggs is head of strategy at Veldindre Cancer Centre and director of the Midlands and Wales Advanced Therapy Treatment Centre (ATTC), one of three ATTCs in Britain.
Briggs gave an overview of his role as head of gene and cell therapy at the Welsh Blood Service, which includes developing a strategy to ensure Wales is able to benefit fully from gene therapy, somatic cell therapy and tissue engineered products. He said it is important to consider how to set the service up for future innovations, while keeping the current service going — and he also noted that a “limited clinical evidence base is a problem for commissioning teams”. He emphasised the importance of improved public education in this area, to better inform patients and the wider public about gene therapy advances. He also highlighted the employment opportunities of the sector, saying that advanced therapies research could attract more people to live and work in Wales.
Evans, lead haematology pharmacist at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, told the meeting that she had been working one day a week with the Midlands and Wales ATTC for the past six months on a project aiming to develop systems for the routine delivery of advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs) across the NHS.
She said there are some challenges on the regulatory side of this: it is hard to produce national standard operating procedures, and also there is a lot of variation between individual therapies (even between the two licenced chimeric antigen receptor T-cell – therapy [CAR-T] therapies).
Evans said that there is now a Pan-UK Pharmacy ATMPs Working Group, chaired by Anne Black, assistant director of pharmacy (quality assurance) at Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The group comprises representatives of the three ATTCs, as well as of the RPS and other bodies. She also highlighted a document edited by Black, ‘Pharmacy Institutional Readiness for Marketed CAR-T Therapy: Checklists for Pharmacy Services’, which outlines what chief pharmacists need to know before their organisations implement CAR-T therapy services.
- The next meeting of the WPB will be held on 10 September 2019.