Shrouded in mist

Although Lord Carter of Coles has now endorsed the recommendation set out in the White Paper ‘Trust, Assurance and Safety’ (p573) and supports the establishment of a pharmacy regulator — a General Pharmaceutical Council — the other structure — a body akin to a royal college — remains shrouded in mist, if not mystery.

Lord Carter, in the report of his working party, wants to see a royal college for pharmacy established (for pharmacy, note, not of pharmacists), which implies that those finding shelter and professional satisfaction under its umbrella could come from a broad church. He also believes that both the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland should play a pivotal role in the establishment of this new body.

How this body will be structured, and from what, depends on the buy-in of the members of the Society. Lord Carter suggests that the Society has a year in which to show the leadership required to persuade its members to support the new venture.

Considering the short time in which it was put together, the report is comprehensive, although the analysis is shallow in some respects. In flaw, however, is to assume that the pharmacy bodies represented at a King’s Fund seminar in march (PJ, 14 April, p417) also represent sufficient numbers of rank and file members.

Meanwhile, Lord Hunt, minister overseeing those momentous developments in pharmacy, has reiterated his view in a letter this week that the organisation akin to a royal college should be a new body — not the Society (p583).

However, under the terms of the Charter it is the Society’s members who will decide whether or not they want to allow the Society’s assets to be used to underpin the new body. If not, the government will need to introduce primary legislation to establish a royal college. This is why the crystal ball looks rather foggy.

The primary legislation route would be expensive for the government and, unless it has significant support from the profession, not sustainable. But will giving the Society a new identity, new structures and functions, satisfy Lord Hunt and, at the same time, satisfy the members of the Society? The Institute of Pharmacy Management International, among many significant points, puts forward strong arguments why the Society should not be destroyed in the process of establishing a professional leadership body (p573).

When Lord Hunt responds to the Carter working party report he has an obligation to spell out precisely from where he expects the new body to come, if not the Society, how much money he is prepared to put on the table to establish it and to consider the consequences — intended and unintended.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, May 2007;()::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2023.1.171211

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