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Home  »   Latest News   »   PDA calls for improved clarity from “independent” commission into professional leadership.

PDA calls for improved clarity from “independent” commission into professional leadership.

The PDA hopes that the exercise to re-invigorate professional leadership in pharmacy will be a success. However, the survey issued by the Commission on Professional Leadership highlights the need for those behind the commission to clarify some of their thinking, assumptions, and scope of the discussion before pharmacists can provide informed contributions based on a shared understanding.

Fri 2nd September 2022 The PDA

The PDA represents pharmacists practicing in all parts of the profession and across the entire UK, and its 35,000+ members have a significant stake in the outcome of a discussion about the future of professional leadership for pharmacists. On publication of the Commission’s first survey, some PDA members have raised concerns about the ambiguous terms used, the questions being asked and the background to the Commission on Professional Pharmacy Leadership.

The PDA strongly believe that without absolute clarity and transparency throughout the process the work of the commission may suffer the same lack of confidence from the profession as was experienced by the Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation programme board.

Nothing about us without us

Nothing About us, without us” is a valid and important cry from many groups especially patients, but it applies to pharmacists too. When William Allen, John Bell and others met during the 19th century to discuss the creation of a pharmaceutical society for Great Britain, they were considering what was right for their profession, they were not implementing an instruction from any employer(s) or government. Their proposal successfully became the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. Professional interests are borne out of a collective ambition of its constituents and lead to the creation of a professional body. Similarly, only with the explicit consent, engagement, and support of pharmacists, can any proposals for the future of pharmacist professional leadership succeed.

As the RPSGB came to an end, thanks to the Save our Society campaign, the RPS was able to continue as the professional body for pharmacists in Great Britain, leaving the regulation of pharmacists to a newly created regulator; the GPhC.  However, after just 12 years, the RPS has stagnated to such an extent that the four government Chief Pharmaceutical Officers have instigated an intervention in the form of a commission to try and shape a future professional leadership arrangement for pharmacists.

The PDA supports the need for effective professional leadership in pharmacy and agrees that the current RPS arrangement is not delivering. However, as part of the role as a genuinely independent body representing front line pharmacists, PDA articulates the views of members, challenges on their behalf and where necessary, speaks truth to power.

Unless an agreed solution, and the way it is determined, takes a wider view by recognising the wider leadership ecosystem in pharmacy, then it will not be successful and sustainable in the long term. At all costs, we must avoid returning to this position in the future if the ambitions of pharmacists are to be supported and that they are able to develop clinical relationships with patients. Only then will they be able to fulfil their hopes and aspirations enabling the practice of pharmacy in the future to flourish.

The commission has recently published a survey about which the PDA has been approached by members who would like to understand more about the context before they participate. They are concerned that with the current wording they may answer with different understandings of what is being asked and highlight that their individual answers will differ depending on what is meant by some of the key phrases used in the questions.

The most common questions being asked are: 

  1. What has prompted this commission?

The four CPhOs have no mandate from pharmacists to determine the future of professional leadership for pharmacists, it is important to understand who asked them to set up this initiative and why?

  1. Who is funding this exercise?

For complete transparency, it is important that pharmacists are aware of who is funding the exercise. As one PDA member said, “he who pays the piper calls the tune”.

  1. Why is this being labelled as an “Independent Commission”?

The four CPhOs have not only decided to have a commission, but they

    • have selected the members of the commission
    • will function as advisors to the commission
    • will take part in the commission’s meetings
    • will be the recipients of the commission’s recommendations in a final report to be presented to them in December 2022

The four CPhO’s are the most senior pharmacists within the NHS, which is the largest employer of pharmacists in the UK. Additionally, they are the most senior government advisors on pharmacy, so under the circumstances, it is unsurprising that pharmacists have asked us to try and establish what criteria are being used to consider this initiative as being “independent”?

  1. What expertise is represented on the Commission?

It has been stated by the CPhOs that the individuals sitting on the commission have been chosen based on the organisational expertise they possess in leadership bodies. What evidence is there to support this statement?

Furthermore, the list of commission members cites not their expertise, but the organisation they come from. Therefore, the impression is strongly given that the individuals have been chosen not because of their expertise as stated, but because they represent certain organisations. To achieve buy-in, and greater openness and transparency, an explanation as to why these specific members of the commission have been selected would be very helpful.

  1. Who is included where the survey asks about “professional leadership bodies”?

The survey refers to “the professional leadership bodies” and it asks pharmacists to answer a series of questions about them. Who is it that the commission considers to be “The professional leadership bodies”? It is unclear if they are referring to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in GB and the PSNI in Northern Ireland, or does their understanding of “professional leadership bodies” involve other additional bodies? If so, who?

  1. Who is included where the survey asks about “Pharmacy Professionals”?

The PDA has raised concerns about the use of this phrase, and the ambiguity it creates, many times before and is disappointed to see it included in the survey. For informed answers questions need to be clear about who they relate to, is it pharmacists or someone else?

To try and make this exercise a success and in the interests of transparency, the PDA highlights these questions in an open format and has written to the CPhO for England for answers to the above.


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