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Pharmacy in the UK: membership, CPD and areas of practice


Much of the activity around Transcom has been centred around the working groups, specifically those established to look at issues of membership, CPD and revalidation, and improved, advanced and specialist practice.

The membership group had the advantage of seeing the results of a current RPSGB membership consultation exercise which had been organised by the Pharmaceutical Journal (PJ). This survey was critised by one of the Transcom members at the end of August, who said that the information generated may be of limited value because the pharmacists who had completed it were influenced by perceptions of other UK professions, rather than the reality of how other pharmacy bodies operate successfully worldwide. In this context New Zealand, Australia and America were discussed and the RPSGB charter.

Much of the subsequent debate about membership has centred around initial thoughts from the membership group published in the PJ at the beginning of September, which suggested only affiliated status for technicians and scientists.

The PJ headline stated: “Technicians denied membership”.

The proposal was that their representative body could be affiliated to New Professional Body (NPB) with an exchange of services agreed between them. Members of the affiliated body would not be able to stand for council or have voting rights or post-nominal letters.

The Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK supported these initial proposals. saying that they would play an active role in such a partnership. The announcement was followed by letters in the PJ commenting that negative headlines were unhelpful, the story had been taken out of context and that this decision had been received in all quarters as a sensible and pragmatic solution.

The membership group also put forward that affiliated status should be offered to pharmacy representative bodies and student bodies, although it was argued that there would be benefit from having students as direct members.

Another controversial suggestion was that associate members should include pre-registration trainees, overseas pharmacists and degree level professionals allied to pharmacy, for example pharmaceutical scientists and non-pharmacist academics. The British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester was bubbling with debate around these issues, with scientists lobbying hard to win full membership. The possibility of an autonomous body within the NPB was discussed.

The issue of postnominal letters prompted wide debate, with the industrial pharmacist group arguing that, without postnominals, there appeared to be few benefits to associate membership.

After a subsequent meeting on 17 September, an announcement was made by the membership group in the PJ, to the effect that further thought had been given to the initial decisions. It appeared that the scientists had been successful at lobbying.

The proposals of the membership group put forward to Transcom were that the NPB should be a body for pharmacy and not pharmacists. They suggested four membership groups:

  • Practising, non-practising and retired pharmacists.
  • Pre-registration trainees, students undertaking approved pharmacy degrees and students of a yet-to-be specified list of pharmacy-related degrees.
  • International members accredited by overseas regulators or professional bodies.
  • Pharmaceutical scientists and academics.

There was also general agreement that the NPB needed to be controlled by pharmacists.

CPD and revalidation
The CPD and revalidation working group met on 16 September to discuss issues such as the NPB’s relationship with GPhC and the practitioner, local considerations about future structures that may play a role in revalidation, future policy and services, such as accreditation, which might be offered in future.

The medical profession has already had some experience in revalidation, what the issues are and what lessons could be learnt, and it is interesting that further speculation about revalidation and who will be involved in undertaking assessments for pharmacy has also been raised recently in an article featured in the PJ.

There will no doubt be some issues discussed by the CPD and revalidation committee that are related to discussions in the improved, advanced and specialist practice working group, and the profession obviously awaits this debate with great interest.

The CPD and revalidation group report is now on the Transcom website for comment.

Improved, advanced and specialist practice
So too is the report of the improved, advanced and specialist practice working group, along with blogs and interesting podcasts from various people/bodies expressing their views on the NPB.

One of the many issues arising from this very interesting draft paper is around specialities and whether, in fact, community pharmacy will be classed as a speciality, or whether there will be a general board to oversee the practice levels in “general” areas such as community pharmacy and general medicine in hospital pharmacy.

There is only a small window of opportunity to comment before these reports are finalised and put to the Transcom committee, and I would encourage you to contribute.

Transcom activity in September has not produced too much in the way of published reports, but it will pave the way to a very interesting October!

Gill Hawksworth
RPSGB past president


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