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The Pharmaceutical Journal
Vol 268 No 7204 p894
29 June 2002

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Leading Articles

What will the future look like?

Distributed with this week's Journal is a questionnaire about the future composition of the Council of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. The questionnaire is based partly on the two discussion documents produced by the Modernisation Steering Group and published as pull-out centre sections of the issues of 15 June and 22 June and summarised on p925 of this issue. However, it also acknowledges that some members of the Society believe that modern regulation can be sustained by the existing Council structure but with regulation devolved to another committee (PDF*, 50K).

Most pharmacists have welcomed the fact that the Society will continue as a professional body and as regulator of pharmacy and pharmacists. However, the two main schools of thought that have been expressed to date about how the Society will be organised in the future represent real differences in emphasis.

The Modernisation Steering Group takes the view that because regulation embraces so much of the existing professional activities already supported by the Society the only way forward is to reform the Council's structure. This way the Council can fulfil the Government's requirements for modern regulators to be publicly accountable, by welcoming many more lay members into its midst.

This is anathema to the other group, spearheaded by the Young Pharmacists Group. They see the Modernisation Steering Group's position as one step away from the Society being reduced to a regulator and the traditional professional activities of the Society being sidelined. The YPG would prefer the regulatory functions to be devolved to a new committee, the Pharmacy Regulation and Compliance Committee, where the required extra lay members would reside. The YPG accepts that there might be disputes between the PRCC and the Council and suggests that the Privy Council could be called upon to resolve them.

Both positions have pluses and minuses. The YPG position leaves the members centre stage and the profession of pharmacy fully represented. However, the Council would be weakened if the Privy Council has to intervene in disputes it might have with the regulatory committee. Where would the power ultimately lie?

Having more lay members on the Council would strengthen its hand in its dealings with Government, but this is likely to be unacceptable to some members of the Society.

The Journal urges all members to consider the issues and make their views known by filling in the questionnaire either on paper or online. Whatever members' views, the changes facing the profession at this time are as great as any in its history.


  * PDF files on PJ Online require Acrobat Reader 4 or later.

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