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The Pharmaceutical Journal
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The Society (3 letters)
From Mr M. Hickey, MRPharmS
I have been following the correspondence on whether the Society is a membership organisation or not with some interest, and as a result I decided to consult the Charter and the Byelaws in some detail. Both make it very clear that the Society is indeed a membership organisation.
Section 2 of the Byelaws stipulates the criteria for membership of the Society, and the Charter in section 4 gives the objects of the Society. One of these objects, and this is important, is "to maintain the honour and safeguard and promote the interests of the members in their exercise of the profession of pharmacy".
I did also notice an important omission in the Charter and Byelaws, nowhere do they mention specifically the regulatory function. The regulatory function is given to the Society not through the Charter or by virtue of the Byelaws, but by the Pharmacy Act of 1954 (in respect of individuals) and the Medicines Act of 1968 (in respect of bodies corporate).
This would suggest that the Society is in every sense, as presently constituted, a membership organisation, one which also happens to operate a regulatory function by virtue of currently enacted legislation. It also follows if the legislature wishes to take away, replace, or alter the way the regulatory function is operated then it can do simply, and if necessary regardless of what the Society wishes.
I would suggest that the Society exists to represent its members, and if it wishes to continue to regulate the profession, or have any influence on its regulation it must do so on behalf of its members and in the interests of the public.
From Mr D. G. Higgins, FRPharmS
I am surprised that with the considerable experiences of John Ferguson, Raymond Dickinson and Ann Lewis, they have not alluded to the most important factor concerning the Society.
About one in four members of the Society take an active interest in the profession and involve themselves with the branches and the Society. The other members are merely in the business of pharmacy. Their only concern with the professional body is what it will cost them, or what they must do, to remain in the business. This is why I am advocating a tangible reward such as a discount to those members who give something back to the profession.
D. G. Higgins
From Mr W. T. Brookes, MRPharmS
It is disturbing to note that once again the Council of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society is seeking to reduce the involvement of the branches and regions in the Society's affairs by removing funding for representatives from the network who attend the British Pharmaceutical Conference. Although not princely, the present funding of conference tickets, £20 per night towards accommodation and £15 towards other expenses, together with the standard class rail fare was of some help.
Branches and regions were thus able to send two representatives to this major pharmaceutical event. Many a young pharmacist has been given his or her first taste of involvement in pharmaceutical affairs on a professional, scientific and political level in a national forum as a result of this system. Now branches and regions of whatever size are expected to pick up the full cost of any representatives' expenses. And these will be significantly more than the previous subsidy which did not cover the full cost of accommodation, meals or evening events.
This decision has been taken without any consultation and shows a marked downgrading of the branch network in the Council's priorities. The timing of the announcement just before Christmas also smacks somewhat of the burying of bad news memo sent out by the Transport Secretary's adviser on 11 September.
A proper debate needs to take place on this issue and the branch representatives' and annual general meetings in May are the earliest public events when this is possible.
When this manoeuvre was last attempted by the Council, pressure at the 1994 BRM helped to bring about a change of policy. It is to be hoped that the membership will be equally successful in 2002.
W. T. Brookes
Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 20005876
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