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Members should decide who the next RPS president is

Perhaps the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) would like to explain to its members the thought processes behind the decision to remove the current president. It is exactly this type of “behind closed door” decision making that has landed our politicians in hot water. And surely if political parties are allowing their respective membership to choose their leader, then it is only fair that the members decide who the next president of the RPS should be.

As things stand we will have disenfranchisement of the membership. There is no transparency in this decision regarding the loss of the RPS president and this, in turn, will lead to a loss in membership.

The RPS should learn the hard lessons political parties are being taught at the moment and address the needs and concerns of the membership urgently.

GS Matharu




Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2016.20201375

Readers' comments (2)

  • I served on the English Board for 3 years with Ash Soni, and for 1 year on the Assembly where Ash served as the President. I was proud to serve under Ash, and he has been a charismatic and knowledgeable leader of the RPS. It is understandable why there appears to be some concern raised following his departure from the President's role (though he continues to contribute to the English board).

    The election of the assembly is a secret ballot (one knows who voted for whom), similar to our vote in the election or referendum (or internal elections in other professional bodies). This helps keep board relationships collegiate, and avoids the potential for members to be influenced or pressured into voting for particular individuals. It is not a “closed door” decision, and there is no evidence that this vote was any different to previous votes that elected Ash to the assembly.

    Some thought needs to be put into what the role of President is. The RPS boards provide the policy role for the RPS boards in their respective countries and the President acts as the chair of the governance body, the assembly, and as a figurehead for the RPS. In recent years the role of the President has become a more high profile role, both in the media and social media, and has perhaps become viewed differently by some in the membership.

    The nature of the tri-partite board system and presidential role is complex, and this situation has perhaps highlighted some of the tensions that such a structure brings. Some review of this arrangement may be required. However, if the current problems in the wider political world tell us anything, it is that populist measures like referendums, or directly elected Presidents, may not be the panaceas they look like. The boards are also elected by the membership, who should have the expectation that those they choose should have an opportunity to contribute to the RPS in both policy and the choice of leadership of the Society. If anything, the board chairs should be the engines of the RPS policy machine.

    In the past 3 years the RPS has delivered on a number of policy areas, transformed the way it is viewed by the media and has a rising membership. This has been achieved by all elected members and the staff working together.

    While I am personally sorry that Ash did not continue as President for a further year, and I would have voted for him if I had remained on the board, but this is not the time for one of the cathartic moments the RPS occasionally goes through. The Pharmacy world is as in much flux as the rest of the UK. Let’s not add to it.

    Dr Anthony R Cox, FRPharmS
    Board member 2013-2016, Assembly member 2015-2106

    The views above are my own, and have not been shared with current board members prior to publication. They may or may not agree with me.

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  • Typo in secret ballot section should be "no one knows who voted for whom".


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