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PJ Online | The Society: April 2002 Council meeting

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The Pharmaceutical Journal
Vol 268 No 7195 p588-590
27 April 2002

February Council meeting

Position statement adopted on implications of developments in genetics

Main points

BRM debate The Council approved a document containing background information designed to help decision-making at this year's branch representatives' meeting (last week).

Museum acquisitions policy The Council adopted a revised acquisitions and disposals policy for the Society's museum, in recognition of the implications of the policy changes made by the Council in 2001 (last week).

Byelaw amendment The Council agreed to seek a Byelaw amendment to allow implementation of its earlier decision to lower the initial registration fee for new registrants (last week, p548).

Genetics The Council has adopted an interim position statement adopted on implications of developments in genetics and associated therapies (this page).

Public health and hospital pharmacy agendas A document setting out the Society's actions in regard to its public health agenda and hospital pharmacy agenda was presented to the Council in response to written questions (this page).

Modernisation programme Communication has been the main focus of the Society's recent work on its modernisation programme.

Degree accreditation The Council has approved revised requirements for United Kingdom pharmacy undergraduate courses for the purpose of registration as a pharmacist in Britain.

The Council of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has adopted an interim position statement on the implications for pharmacy of developments in genetics and associated therapies.

The statement, adopted at the Council's meeting in London on 9 and 10 April, reads: "The Society welcomes the considerable progress that has been made in recent years in the field of human genetics, particularly in pharmacogenomics and pharmacogenetics. It foresees a significant potential for pharmacists to harness the new technologies in helping to realise the benefits to the public, while also accepting the need to address the lay concerns that it also raises.

"The Society recognises that for the profession there are issues that will need to be proactively addressed. It will move this agenda forward by working, in collaboration with a wide range of government bodies, health care professionals, patient groups and other organisations, on aspects such as ethics, policy regulation, standards and guidance."

The President said that the Government was developing a Green Paper on the subject and it was essential that it should include the role of pharmacy and pharmacists. The document would be sent with an appropriate covering letter to encourage inclusion within the Green Paper.

Public health and hospital pharmacy agendas

A 2,000-word document setting out the Society's past, present and future actions in regard to its public health agenda and hospital pharmacy agenda was presented to the Council in response to a number of written questions (PDF* 95K) asked by Hemant Patel.

For each topic, Mr Patel had asked how the Society was taking forward its agenda, what it had done in the past year, what it planned to do in the next year, what help members of the Society could expect in delivering the agenda, what were the Government's objectives, what was the Society's role in delivering those objectives and what collaborative work was being developed with other pharmacy organisations.

On the first topic, the response document says that public health was the topic of policy work in 2000, with two reports presented to the Council in that year, and in 2001 there was work on developing the evidence base. The document goes on to give examples of lobbying activities in 2001 designed to influence government policy on public health by highlighting the role of the pharmacist as a public health practitioner at both the specialist level and the community pharmacy level. The Society also successfully lobbied on specific issues such as emergency hormonal contraception and smoking cessation. Other lobbying activities included campaigning for reform of drugs misuse policy and regulations and successful campaigns on "Be clear about your medicines" (jointly with the Doctor Patient Partnership and Age Concern) and "Your medicines matter".

The Society's plans for the next 12 months include the second part of the review of the evidence-base for pharmacy health development activity and a joint initiative with the Pharmacy Healthcare Scheme. Planned lobbying activities in 2001 include: a response to the DoH consultation document on "Tackling health inequalities", the preparation of an information pack for Council members and staff to use for presentations on the public health roles of pharmacists, and the production of a briefing on medicines management for primary care trusts and social services, which will include aspects of public health. Lobbying activities already carried out in 2002 include work by the Society's Scottish Department to influence the strategy for pharmaceutical care in Scotland and support for No Smoking Day. In addition, the Policy Support Unit has commissioned a report on external (ie, not pharmacy-specific) public health workforce initiatives, and the Society will continue to campaign for reform of the drugs misuse policy and regulations.

On the Government's public health objectives, the document says that public health is woven into a number of Government documents and objectives, including the NHS plans for England, Scotland and Wales and a number of the national service frameworks.

On collaborative work with other pharmacy organisations, the response refers to collaboration with the Pharmacy Healthcare Scheme on a number of projects and discussion with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, the National Pharmaceutical Association and the Company Chemists Association over co-authorship and joint funding of a pack for pharmacists on public health to complement the Society's review of the evidence base.

In response to Mr Patel's questions on hospital pharmacy, the document says that the main priority in 2002 for taking forward the Society's agenda will be in response to the Audit Commission report, "A spoonful of sugar". In the past 12 months, the Society has produced updated guidance on "Preservation of sterility in ophthalmic preparations" (which has been endorsed by the Department of Health) and has nearly completed an update of guidelines for the "Safe and secure handling of medicines".

In response to "Pharmacy in the future" and the NHS plan, the Hospital Pharmacists Group Committee has produced best practice guidance on "One stop dispensing", "Use of patients' own drugs" and "Self administration schemes". It has also completed its final version of a "Strategy for hospital pharmacy" and is looking at a possible role for the Society in the future accreditation of aseptic dispensing in non-licensed units.

Plans for the next 12 months include: publishing best practice guidance on "Record keeping"; publishing the updated guidance on the "Safe and secure handling of medicines"; publishing a vision for the future of hospital pharmacy; submitting a proposal relating to the accreditation of aseptic dispensing in non-licensed units; and identifying and undertaking the work arising from "A spoonful of sugar".

On the Government's hospital pharmacy objectives and the Society's role in delivering them, the response says that the objectives are listed in "A spoonful of sugar" and the practice division will be identifying those objectives on which the Society should undertake work.

On collaborative work with other pharmacy organisations, the response says that the group committee already collaborates closely with the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists and intends to continue this close liaison during the work planned in response to "A spoonful of sugar". Other bodies and organisations will be consulted appropriately.

(The full response to Mr Patel's questions is available through the online version of this report at

Mr PATEL thanked the office for preparing the answers to his questions and for all the work that had gone on in the past year. He assured the Council that his actions were not related to his candidature in the current Council election but had arisen from local developments in his area.

Key changes were taking place in the NHS and he was increasingly concerned about the ability of the pharmacy profession to deliver some of the solutions at local level. Pharmacy had to start looking at the public health agenda in a serious way — and certainly more so than it had been doing. The purpose of the questions was to focus on apparent lack of delivery and co-ordination at local level. At strategic level quite a lot of work was going on. But somehow they had to address the issue of effective local delivery.

CHRISTINE GLOVER said that the Institute of Public Health in Scotland had a group working to produce a paper about public health and pharmacy. It was hoped that the paper would be available by June. Perhaps that paper and some of the issues that Mr Patel had raised could form the basis of a useful discussion in the Council.

The PRESIDENT said that with other bodies the Society had sent a paper to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Hazel Blears) on effective local delivery, emphasising the need for pharmacy to be involved not only at a strategic level but also at a local level.

The SECRETARY AND REGISTRAR, referring to the mention of the Pharmacy Healthcare Scheme, said that over the past 12 months the scheme had changed almost beyond recognition. It was now chaired by an external person who had good links with public health. It had representation from Wales, and they hoped that Scotland would be on board soon. The experts in pharmacy public health in each of those home countries were involved.

Modernisation programme

Council briefs

Charter medals for 2002 The President said that his decision on the award of the Charter medals was that the gold medal should go to Professor Peter Noyce, of the University of Manchester, and the silver medal to Mike Burden, of Leicester.

Synergy award The President said that his decision on the 2002 Synergy award was that it should go to Ailsa Benson, former head of training at the National Pharmaceutical Association. The synergy award is given annually to recognise a contribution to the profession by a person who is not a member of the Society.

Panel of fellows The Council accepted a recommendation of the Officers that Jim Bannerman should succeed Ron Wing as chairman of the panel of fellows, following Mr Wing's retirement this year. Mr Bannerman, a past president of the Society, has been a member of the panel for a number of years.

Giving an update on the Society's modernisation programme, the PRESIDENT said that since the previous Council meeting the main focus had been communicating aspects of the programme to pharmacists and others. It was vital to build an understanding and an awareness of the issues and allow interested parties to express their views. There were fundamental misunderstandings on the part of some pharmacists and therefore it was essential rather than desirable that the complete picture was presented.

The picture was somewhat complex in terms of the range of issues. Articles had been published in the pharmacy press and there had been meetings at branches and regions as well as other groups in pharmacy. There had been two presentations to the Society's staff, and there had been four meetings with local opinion formers.

The Council had discussed the programme in more detail on a "reserve day", when they had had the benefit of hearing from Sir Donald Irvine on the General Medical Council's experience. Sir Donald's comments in highlighting the issues facing a sister profession had been pertinent, apposite and helpful.

There had also been meetings in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff to consider the impact of devolution on the modernisation programme. The issues identified were the composition of the Society's Council, the committee structure functions and the relationship with the Council, delivery of the Society's functions, and ways of working between the Society's offices.

The modernisation steering group had met the previous day. It had received output from the three meetings on devolution and agreed that further work should be undertaken to draw out those issues in more detail. Information on the work to date would be circulated to Council members and to the Scottish and Welsh Executives. It would then be more widely disseminated through the modernisation communication programme to raise awareness on the impact of devolution.

Two working lunches had been held with stakeholders from outside the profession, patient and consumer organisations and bodies linked to other professions. That provided informal opportunities to tell some of the external stakeholders about the Society's modernisation programme and hear views on how the Society should be meeting the needs of the public and also the profession in the future.

The modernisation steering group had also received responses from the paper on the Society's future remit and functions and would be putting forward proposals to the Council as soon as possible. Once the Council had determined the direction of travel, the steering group would issue a further discussion paper in the light of the Council's decision on the future responsibilities and composition of the Council.

The President thanked all members of Council who had contributed to the programme to date. He asked them to continue to contribute their time and expertise to the work, which would have significant implications for the profession, the public and the Society.

The SECRETARY AND REGISTRAR added that there had been three meetings concerning issues related to devolution to try to identify what had to be considered. The first one was for Council members who had expressed interest in the project, and the chairmen and secretaries of the executives had attended. It was a facilitated meeting that had enabled them to identify what should be discussed with the executives themselves. Both executive had held meetings, and there had been feedback. That was a way in which the matter was being taken forward.

Degree accreditation

The Council approved revised requirements for United Kingdom pharmacy undergraduate courses for the purpose of subsequent registration as a pharmacist in Britain. The new requirements will be used as the basis of degree accreditation and re-accreditation exercises from September 2002.

The new requirements arise from a complete review of degree accreditation that has been going on for nearly two years. Draft requirements that went out for consultation last year (PJ, 4 August 2001, p172) attracted more than 100 responses, each of which was been considered by the working group on degree accreditation. After amendments arising from these comments, a further draft was sent to heads of schools for final approval and resulted in further amendments.

Locum fees

The Council decided that the Secretary and Registrar should bring forward a paper at the earliest opportunity outlining options for the payment of fees and expenses to Council members, including that of abolishing payments for locum expenses incurred by Council members when on Council business. The Council voted against continuation of the current policy but agreed that the existing arrangements of payments should continue until a new policy was adopted.

Attendance Those present at the meeting were the President (Marshall Davies), the Vice-President (Dr Gillian Hawksworth), the Treasurer (David Allen), Dr Gordon Appelbe, Andrew Burr, Peter Curphey, Sultan Dajani, Wally Dove, Digby Emson, Dr Phillida Entwistle, Dr John Evans, Alison Ewing, Christine Glover, Dr Nicola Gray, Patricia Hoare, Alan Nathan, Hemant Patel, Helen Remington, Professor Michael Schofield, Linda Stone, Ashwin Tanna and the Secretary and Registrar (Ann Lewis). Also present was the chairman of the Welsh Executive (Andrea Robinson).

Apologies for absence were received from Hassan Argomandkhah, Sally Greensmith, Kirit Patel, and the chairman of the Society's Scottish Executive (Alison Strath).

Guests Present by invitation were David Caplan (chairman of the Society's Bury and Rochdale branch), Mair Davies (member of the Society's Welsh Executive), Helen McKnight (secretary of the Society's North Western region), Alan Screen (member of the Society's Welsh Executive) and Dr Madelaine Whelan (secretary of the Society's Liverpool branch). The South Essex branch was represented by Kiran Patel (branch secretary) on the Tuesday and Stuart Johnston (branch chairman) on the Wednesday.

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

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