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Only pharmacists as full members of new body?

Full membership of the new professional body for pharmacy should be for pharmacists only, the branch representatives’ meeting decided.

Tony Pugh (Brighton) proposed: “That when the Royal Pharmaceutical Society is divested of its regulatory function, then full membership of the proposed body akin to a royal college should only be for those pharmacists who have obtained a pharmacy degree and are working or have worked in pharmacy.”

After interventions from Edward Mallinson (Lanarkshire) and Bill Brookes (South Cheshire), the motion was revised to read “. . . should be for pharmacists who are, or have been, in pharmacy-related employment”, acknowledging those pharmacists who registered before degree-only entry to the profession began in the late 1960s.

Opposing the motion, Amy Lepiorz (South Cheshire) said that the wording still did not include pharmacy students, even though the BRM had already agreed that they should be a major part of the new profession (see p699).

Wasim Baqir (Northumbria) added that the motion also ignored pharmacy technicians and pharmaceutical scientists. How many of the 40,000 pharmacists would voluntarily pay to join the new body? It needed other sources of revenue and should encompass all who work in the pharmacy arena.

Gordon Ross (Nottingham) suggested that full membership should be for pharmacists, pharmacy students and technicians in pharmacy-related employment, with affiliated membership for others. He proposed amending the motion to read: “. . . full membership of the proposed body akin to a royal college should be for pharmacists, pharmacy students and technicians”.

Seconding, Carol Lange (Leicestershire) said that the attitude that registered technicians should be excluded was deplorable.

Anthony Cox (Birmingham) said that he did not agree with the motion, because the topic was one for the Transitional Committee rather than the BRM, but he opposed the amendment because it changed the motion so much that it would mean exactly the opposite.

Steven Curtis (Harrow and Hillingdon) said that the motion gave pharmacists the opportunity to defend their position and face their future careers as pharmacists “without the bloody technicians”. The pharmacy body should be just for pharmacists.

David Thomas (Martin Bagley/Resources/RPSGB)

David Thomas (Thames Valley) said that the new body faced a problem of economics. Practising pharmacists would have to pay a fee to the General Pharmaceutical Council. Would they also pay to join a non-mandatory professional body? The new body would need pharmacy students, technicians and preregistration trainees — the more, the merrier.

Ken Gledhill (Harrogate) said that qualifying as a pharmacist involved a tough course and a rigorous preregistration year, and he strongly opposed the admission of technicians.

James Davis (British Pharmaceutical Students Association) said that the amendment should be opposed because, although it included pharmacy students, it did not include preregistration trainees.

John Anderson (Chelmsford) said that technicians did not belong in the new professional body. They should not be in a position to be elected to the new body’s council and tell pharmacists what they should be doing and what their professional standards should be.

David Morgan (Clwyd) urged the meeting to vote against the amendment because it did not go far enough. It needed to include pharmaceutical scientists and academics, in line with the recommendations of the Clarke Report, as well as preregistration trainees.

Mrs Lange said that hospital pharmacists work alongside senior technicians who carry out clinical interventions and review patients. The meeting should support the amendment.

The amendment was then put to the vote and lost.

Speaking to the substantive motion, Mr Curtis said that it was the most important of the day because it allowed debate on the future of the profession. It was the pharmacist’s profession and should not be shared. He was not interested in arguments that the new body needed other people’s money. He wanted a body that would defend his position as a pharmacist. It could incorporate or affiliate with other people and set up anything it liked to get the views of other people, but he would refuse to allow other people fully in. It should be a pharmacy body for pharmacists, or he would not be interested.

Dennis Higgins (Thames Valley) agreed that pharmacists alone should have full membership, but he was not opposed to forms of associate membership for technicians, students, etc.

Gordon Ross (Nottingham) said that the the motion was bigoted to exclude technicians. The new body would represent professional growth and development and clinical expertise. Technicians were involved in that.

Mr Thomas said that anti-technician feeling saddened him. Pharmacy practice could not exist in the 21st century without technicians.

Mr Gledhill said he was not anti-technician in any way, but including them as full members would devalue the pharmacist qualification.

Laura Kenicer (Glasgow and West of Scotland) said what people seemed to be saying was that technicians needed to be involved, but not necessarily as full members. No one was anti-technician if they wanted them involved.

Anthony Cox ((Martin Bagley/Resources/RPSGB))

Dr Cox said that accusations of “technicianophobia” were utterly ridiculous. Many people who opposed technicians becoming full members worked with them all the time and greatly valued their role. But inviting them in as full members could put pharmacists off joining because they wanted an organisation to represent pharmacists. There was a value in having separate organisations for pharmacists and technicians, which could have a dialogue between them about the sort of issues that came up between them.

The debate had nothing to do with the roles of technicians and pharmacists. That was a completely separate debate that would occur through several mechanisms. The motion was not “technophobic”, and people should vote in that light.

A vote was then taken and the motion was carried.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10007786

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