Recent discussion on Twitter concerning the removal of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Director of Education and Professional Development role highlighted the non-inclusion of the pursuit of Royal College status in the RPS’ current five-year strategy. Spirited responses from pharmacists maintained that Royal College status was a part of the Society’s strategy following the 2010 demerger of professional and regulatory roles to RPS and GPhC respectively.
RPS President, Claire Anderson, confirmed in an email to members that there was a consensus of Assembly members attending the March 2021 meeting not to pursue RC status.
I looked through the Assembly minutes that are available on the website, expecting to find periodic monitoring of progress against the Strategy, but no! The March 2021 minutes mentioned completion of the 2021-26 strategy, with Assembly to approve the final version during the closed part of the meeting.
How did Royal College status drop off the strategy, without the knowledge of members?
The Strategy documents as published are very high level to the point where I consider them to be more an explanation of the vision, to indicate ‘direction of travel’. To me a strategy is captured in the definition ‘a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim’. I expect to see a high-level plan within the strategy, to provide information about how the goals are going to achieved. Something that interested members can follow. Assembly should also be periodically discussing high-level progress in open business so that it is captured in minutes that members can access.
Looking at the 2021-26 strategy, the first goal is:
Shape The Future Of Pharmacy And Medicines Use - We will be the recognised leaders in influencing and shaping practice, policy and education, for pharmacy, pharmaceutical science and the safe use of medicines.
How will we do that? How do we know when we get there? I want to see the strategic elements that will deliver this goal.
Although the day-to-day operation of the Society is under the control of the CEO, one of the main tasks of the Assembly is to ‘agree the overall strategic direction and top level objectives of the Society, including European and other international dimensions’. In addition, duties of Assembly members include ‘taking decisions about the prioritising of strategy according to the importance of the issue to the Society and the profession and the availability of resources.’ Assembly members need to be reviewing progress against the strategy action plan on an ongoing basis to identify when any changes in priority are needed. This may occur in the closed part of Assembly meetings but a regular review of a high-level action plan needs to be made in open business to keep Society members informed.
Personally, I’m not convinced about the need to change the name to Royal College as I think the RPS could deliver what a Royal College delivers with the current name, but I know that to some the perceived additional prestige of the name is important. However, of greater concern is the removal of the role of Director of Education and Professional Development. If we are to achieve that first goal of the 2021-26 Strategy, then a dedicated director level role is necessary to attract leadership with the required skills and expertise and provide assurance to organisational partners.