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Why is The Pharmaceutical Journal receiving so few letters?

I write as a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) since 1968. At that time, and for many years after, The Pharmaceutical Journal was a vibrant, interesting and informative publication, well suited to the needs of the membership, including community pharmacists. It has been said that the health of a professional publication can be measured by the letters to the editor, and debate that the content leads to. This Journal used to excel; but not now.

The Pharmaceutical Journal has become a publication, and organ of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, with little or no content of interest to the community pharmacist. It has become publication most suited to academics and the hospital sector. Regrettably, letters from practising community pharmacists are few and far between. In that respect the Journal is failing. I no longer look forward to my weekly — now monthly — source of information and professional stimulation.

But I digress from the real reason for this communication. As a retired pharmacist whose career spanned community, hospital, administrative and NHS negotiating roles, I wonder why I remain a member when the RPS does little or nothing for retired pharmacists.

In fact, I fail to find a single compelling reason to remain a member. There are no local branch meetings anymore and community pharmacy is now a rat race to accumulate FP10s with little or no interest by current community pharmacists in their patients.

You may ask why I remain a member. For one reason only: the cost of the retired membership fee is less than the discount I receive from my private health insurer as a consequence of membership.

I am disappointed in the profession I have been a member of for over 50 years.


David Kent, retired pharmacist, Hertfordshire

Tony Scully, publisher, Pharmaceutical Journal Publications, said:

“Thank you for getting in touch, although I am sorry to learn you are disappointed in the profession and this publication.

“I also hope that the letters pages in the print issue of The Pharmaceutical Journal would serve as the place for constructive debate about all matters related to pharmacy. I note, with some admiration and a little envy, how the letters pages in decades past were filled with some interesting and varied discussions.

“However, I am sure you will agree, that the world has changed considerably since then. We have more ways to communicate with each other than ever before, and the The Pharmaceutical Journal runs several thriving social media channels, and receives regular website comments and other feedback from pharmacists and their teams regarding our content. Community pharmacists in particular are still actively engaged in debates over their future, and we are pleased that they continue to use The Pharmaceutical Journal as their reference point.

“There is a genuine challenge in serving sectors of pharmacy, and we try to strike the right balance in coverage between community and hospital, as well as industry and academia. We embrace this challenge using the views of all members to guide us in the type of content we produce and subjects we cover. All of this feedback is relevant and we are very grateful for members giving us their time to do this.

“We do not always get it right, but we do always try to learn and improve alongside the profession.”


Robbie Turner, director of pharmacy and member experience, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said:

“I am sorry to hear your views on our retired membership offering and the profession in general.

“Our retired pharmacists group is thriving and provides opportunities to keep in touch with colleagues and take part in activities. Many retired pharmacists also take advantage of our mentoring platform, giving back their experience to help the younger generation, and I would encourage all colleagues to take this up, as either a mentor or mentee.

“We are here to put pharmacy at the forefront of healthcare and I believe we are doing exactly that; our retired members help us to create a vibrant profession for the future. Some recently retired colleagues have also gone back into practice to help during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Personally, I have never been so inspired by the response of the profession as pharmacists go above and beyond to help their patients at this critical time.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20207927

Readers' comments (3)

  • We would like to add to Robbie Turner’s comprehensive response to David Kent’s letter of dissatisfaction. We are both retired pharmacists too and also the Chair and the Honorary Secretary of the RPS’s Retired Pharmacist’s Group (RPG), which was established in 2011.

    In our opinion the RPS has responded appropriately to meet the educational and professional needs of today’s practising members both in the way in which it now communicates to members and in the information it provides. They must surely be its first priority. The Pharmaceutical Journal is a professional journal and its content today reflects that.

    As for retired pharmacists, our Group has since 2012 put on a yearly programme of events which includes an Annual Conference in November. These events are very well attended so we must be catering for the needs of a significant proportion of the retired membership. Some of the events we had planned for 2020 can be seen on the Retired Pharmacists’ Peer Community page on the RPS website.
    Log-on and visit

    The Group is run by a Committee of retired members, but administrative support for our events and communication is provided by RPS staff. All our events are publicised to retired members, as is other information relevant to them, in RPS e-mailed newsletters. We also have a Facebook page, UK Pharmacists in the Third Age.

    We feel reassured that the RPS has not forgotten us and holds its retired members in high regard. They have recently been asking us to contribute to information they are providing to support its practising members during the COVID-19 pandemic and to information provided to potential volunteers, in particularly those members who have now retired from practice.

    The RPG would welcome Mr Kent’s participation in their activities and his suggestions on how we might help improve his membership experience.

    On behalf of the RPG Committee,
    Mary Tompkins, RPG Chair
    Jenny Boncey, RPG Honorary Secretary

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  • As Mr Kent puts it:

    The Pharmaceutical Journal has become a publication, and organ of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, with little or no content of interest to the community pharmacist.

    I totally agree, and as a community pharmacist I can get everything I need from the C&D and PharmacyMagazine for free. For this reason I am unlikely to continue with the RPS after this year.

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  • Quite the sweeping statement re rat race of FP10’s & no interest in patients to then reduce your membership as just a financial perks to obtain an insurance discount.

    On flicking back through my journal to identify sector specific article my reflection is that issue 304 is rather holistic and articles are clinical not “hospital” orientated- clinical articles are surely of interest to all?

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