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Pharmacy in the UK: not RPSGB Mark II


At the beginning of November, Transcom had finished deliberations on the prospectus for the future professional body and it had been dispatched to the RPSGB for Council approval.

Nigel Clark, chair of Transcom, made it known that he believed this blueprint for the leadership recommends a clear culture change, not a “RPSGB Mark II”.

He believes the crucial change is in the way local support will be organised around professional development. Also, raising pharmacists’ media profile and lobbying government and policymakers would be placed at the centre of the new professional body.

He went on to warn RPSGB Council members not to tinker with the blueprint when they met on 6 November to debate the plans, as any intervention would contradict the open nature of the Transcom inquiry. No advance copies were available, but it was confirmed that the prospectus was largely based on the latest Transcom meeting of 22 October. There was an anxious wait for anyone without a copy for the minutes of that meeting to appear on the Transcom website.

Bearing in mind that the professional body will rely on voluntary sign-up from the wider profession, chief executive of RPSGB, Jeremy Holmes, said that the Society faced an uphill struggle to convince pharmacists the new professional body would not be just a rebadged RPSGB. He proposed a 12-week consultation on technical changes to the RPSGB charter in February 2009 to ensure that the Society was fit for purpose as a leadership body. He acknowledged that recent changes to the charter had attracted “enormous mistrust” amongst the membership.

At the November Council meeting it was decided that pharmacists will receive the prospectus for the new professional body on 28 November, with only minor changes made.

There will be a feedback form, so there is the opportunity to reflect the members’ views in the final plans. The consultation will end 9 January, just 12 months from the planned launch of the new body.

The Transcom minutes on the website make interesting reading. Transparency is held to be key. Transcom members discussed the name and the values of the new body, postnominals, regulatory support, professional development, member support and benefits of membership. The committee asked whether the body would be affordable, and whether pharmacists could afford not to be members.

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So, 28 November is awaited with interest.

One important decision made at the RPSGB Council meeting was that there should be a working group set up to oversee transition to the new body. This will comprise those members of Council who currently sit on Transcom, one nominee from the members of each of the Society’s national boards and nominees from other organisations that commit to being part of the new body.

The remit will be to ensure that progress is being made and that there is effective coordination of work streams and risks management. This group will hold its first meeting in the next few weeks.

It will be interesting to see who is around the table and what the word “commit” is taken to mean!

It was stated in the Pharmaceutical Journal recently that there would be no greater demonstration of commitment to the new body than for the majority of the existing bodies to wind themselves up at midnight 31 December 2009 and for them to be wholly integrated within the new body from 12.01 am on 1 January 2010.

The boldest action from pharmacy leaders is to declare their intention to dissolve the bodies they represent. We can only wait and see.

Gill Hawksworth
RPSGB past president


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