Although the devil is always in the detail, there seems to be a great deal of support for the establishment of a royal college-type body to serve pharmacy and associated professions, and thereby, the public. This week’s issue carries a number of items approaching the issue from different angles. The “Waterloo agreement”, backed by a number of pharmacy organisations following a meeting just over two weeks ago, outlines what they might expect a royal college to offer (p357).
Sandra Gidley, Lib Dem MP, pharmacist and member of the Carter working party, throws down the gauntlet to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and challenges it to prove that it has the qualities to gather all these interested parties together and show that it is in a position, with their support and the backing of its members, to metamorphose into the new organisation (p364).
Finally, the President of the Society, in an interview with The Journal (p369), reveals a real enthusiasm to work not only with the Waterloo group but also with other groups associated with pharmacy, and to embrace specialist pharmacists, who may find a natural home in a royal college, as well as generalist pharmacists, who may feel alienated by the political shenanigans.
It can only be a fanciful idea that an organisation other than the Society could persuade the Government that it should have the responsibility for establishing the royal college. The Society, with its history and intellectual capital, infrastructure and experienced staff, regional and branch network, and the recently established three national pharmacy boards, must be the starting point for any new venture.
How the pharmacy profession arrives at a royal college will be crucial for its future: if the Society is able to reach out to the pharmacy organisations and they can trust each other enough to work together to develop the royal college, they will be making an important first step.
Meanwhile, the deliberations of the Carter working party are coming to a close, with one more meeting scheduled for next week and Lord Carter due to submit his report to ministers by Easter. Pharmacists may be surprised how little they have heard about these deliberations and what direction the discussions have taken but The Journal understands that those involved are bound to confidentiality. The Journal also understands that the working party was only established to advise Lord Carter and that the report will be under his name alone.
It cannot be over-emphasised how important it is that his report is published as soon as possible after Easter. Since the future of the Society, through the establishment of a General Pharmaceutical Council and a body akin to a royal college, will be decided by one person on the advice of a few representatives of the profession, pharmacists must have sight of the arguments put to ministers if they are to buy into the future.