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Transcom’s vision for the new body

The Transitional Committee has published its prospectus for the newprofessional body for pharmacy. Debbie Andalo describes its highlights

by Debbie Andalo

The Transitional Committee has published its prospectus for the new professional body for pharmacy. Debbie Andalo describes its highlights


A modern professional organisation in touch and in tune with its members, guiding and supporting them through their careers from their first days as students to advanced practitioners is the vision for the new professional body for pharmacy.

It will provide leadership, representation and advocacy, support professional development and education and develop networking opportunities — both traditional and those that rely on the internet — for its members.

The new body’s governing assembly will comprise nominated members from the three national boards, a pharmaceutical scientist directly elected by pharmaceutical scientist members, an academic member and a lay member. It will elect its own president.

The assembly will have a GB-wide strategic focus and be responsible for financial management and governance. But the “backbone” of the new body will be the three boards — one each for England, Scotland and Wales. They will be made up of elected members representing the different arms of the profession. There will be seats earmarked for pharmacy specialists to reflect local need.

A network of local practice forums will also be established to create links with NHS organisations and educational institutions such as universities in order to make sure that the educational support from the new body reflects what pharmacists need in practice.

Voluntary membership

Membership of the new body will be voluntary and the combined fees for the new professional body and the regulator will not be any higher than those currently charged by the Society.

These proposals for the shape and function of the new organisation appear in “The new professional body for pharmacy — the prospectus”, a 28-page document published on 28 November by the Transitional Committee and now out for consultation until 9 January 2009.

The committee was set up in April 2008 by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to take forward the recommendations of the Clarke inquiry. That inquiry, chaired by Nigel Clarke — the former chairman of the General Osteopathic Council — and also established by the Society, sought views about the roles and make-up of the new professional body for pharmacy that is being created in 2010.

The new body will be established at the same time as the General Pharmaceutical Council is being set up to take over the regulatory functions of the profession that are currently performed by the Society.

The prospectus makes it clear that pharmacists believe that is it time that the present regulatory and professional support systems run by the Society come to an end.

The profession, says the prospectus, believes that the Society has let it down in recent years, becoming too focused on regulation and ignoring its wider responsibilities.

It says: “Responses from the profession over the last 15 months have made it clear that what pharmacists want to see is a professional body that engages with, supports and motivates its members and communicates with and for them in an open way. The majority of the profession do not believe that this is what has happened over recent years and they want to see change.”

Pharmacists also want the new organisation to be outspoken with a strong voice to influence policy. The document says: “It has become clear that many pharmacists believe that the profession lacks a significant voice in public policy debate, and that we should use our status to exert greater influence on healthcare policy and the development of services for patients.”

As the profession takes on more clinical responsibilities it creates the perfect opportunity to “raise the status” of pharmacy, the prospectus points out.

Mr Clarke promised: “The new professional body will be much closer to its members than the present Society. It will commit to focusing on members’ needs, responding to those needs and crucially evolving as those needs change.”

While the prospectus describes the ideal characteristics it wants to see adopted by the new professional body, it also proposes how the new organisation will reach out to members. A new network of local practice forums is being recommended. These will work in collaboration with existing providers of professional continuing development — the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education, the Welsh Centre of Pharmacy Professional Education and the NHS Education for Scotland.

The forums will also forge links with local universities, primary care trusts and other NHS organisations as well as professional representative bodies such as local pharmaceutical committees.

They will have a key role to make sure that pharmacy education is “joined up” and will have responsibility for confirming the credentials for specific practice qualifications. The forums are likely to become the local focus for professional revalidation which will become compulsory under the new regulatory reforms.

The forums will be supported by the new general curriculum and specialist curriculum committees which will be established by the new professional body to boost professional development and education.

Other ways in which the new professional body will boost pharmacy education and training include the provision of accredited training courses and education events, professional mentoring support (especially for those considering a return to practice) and the development of good practice tool kits, the prospectus proposes.

The new organisation will promote pharmacy research by helping to direct the profession towards sources of potential funding, rather than providing financial support itself.

Society President Steve Churton said the prospectus shows that the Society has listened to its members and acted on what they said: “Many doubted whether the Society could listen, but this prospectus provides the evidence that we have, and that we will continue to listen through the feed back we are seeking. The final blueprint for our new professional body will emerge from this stage of the process.”

Vital to comment

He said it was vital that pharmacists commented on the proposals and added: “This is a hugely exciting time for our profession — the creation of the GPhC and a professional body which will truly speak up for pharmacy and support members in way which many have not experienced in the past is something to be welcomed. Members are beginning to realise the strength of us working together and I am very encouraged that re-engagement has begun, and I remain convinced that professional life will benefit greatly as a result.”

Corrections (10 December 2008)

In this news feature we stated that a new charter for the professional body will be drawn up. We should have said the Charter will be amended.

If the proposals are backed by the profession a new charter for the professional body will be amended which Society members will be balloted on during 2009.

A two-thirds majority is needed for the new organisation to be established.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10040660

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