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  • Scottish Pharmacy Board meeting: 25 September 2019

    The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS’s) Scottish Pharmacy Board (SPB) held its autumn meeting at the Society’s Holyrood office. The meeting marked the last gathering of the board at the Holyrood headquarters — in November 2019, RPS Scotland moved into a new building on Melville Street, in Edinburgh’s West End.

    Present at the meeting were Gail Fleming, director for education and professional development at the RPS; Christopher John, head of workforce policy and projects at the RPS; Joseph Oakley, the Society’s head of assessment and credentialing; Colin Cable, assistant chief scientist at the RPS; and Mahendra Patel, the Society’s treasurer and a member of the English Pharmacy Board (EPB).

    Sue Lacey-Bryant, national lead for NHS Library and Knowledge Services and development advisor for NHS England’s Time for Care programme, was a guest at the meeting. Lacey-Bryant was programme manager for the ‘Topol review: preparing the healthcare workforce to deliver the digital future’, a report commissioned by then health secretary Jeremy Hunt in 2018 and published in February 2019.

    Business plan

    Alex MacKinnon, director for RPS Scotland, said that the Scottish government is currently doing a lot of work looking into policy, public health and primary care, and that the Society is feeding into that. He added that, on 1 October 2019, Jonathan Burton — chair of the SPB — would be giving verbal evidence to the Health and Sport Committee’s inquiry into the future of primary care in Scotland.

    MacKinnon asked the board if they were in agreement that the Society should keep advocating for read and write access to the patient record. The board unanimously agreed.

    Looking ahead, MacKinnon said that a strategy day would be held in November 2019 to consider the Society’s manifesto for the 2021 Scottish elections. MacKinnon said this would also see the board agreeing “two or three big things that we want to do as a board in 2020”. He assured the meeting that the Scottish business plan will be ready by the end of this year.

    Science and research

    Cable said that the Society was currently updating its policy on e-cigarettes, obtaining comment from RPS boards and from stakeholders. “Constructive” talks had been held with Public Health England, he added, and said that the final policy is scheduled for publication in early 2020. 

     The RPS want to support people to stop smoking and understand that e-cigarettes have a role in that, but has concerns about their long-term use, he said.

    Aileen Bryson, policy and practice lead at RPS Scotland, said encouraging pharmacy-based smoking cessation to be funded could reduce the number of people using e-cigarettes.

    Moving on to cannabidiol (CBD) oil, Cable said the Society had received a response from the Home Office to a letter sent in June 2019 to then home secretary Sajid Javid, asking for guidance on permitted tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC) levels in CBD oil.

    The response confirmed that no amount of THC is permissible, he said: any level of THC in CBD oil would render the CBD oil a controlled substance. The response went on to describe exemptions to this, Cable said, but the letter was “ambiguous” in this respect, in the view of both the Society and some external experts who were asked to review it.

    The Society was now trying to arrange a meeting with the Home Office. “We hope to come away from that with clearer understanding, which we will communicate to members,” Cable said, but emphasised that CBD oil guidance currently on the RPS website is accurate.

    Topol review

    Lacey-Bryant gave the board an overview of the ‘Topol review’. Led by Eric Topol, a US-based cardiologist, geneticist, and digital medicine researcher, the review looks to the next 20 years and sets out 46 recommendations to prepare the healthcare workforce for a digitally-based future. The recommendations fall particularly around genomics, digital medicine, artificial intelligence and robotics.

    Lacey-Bryand explained to the board that within 20 years, 90% of NHS jobs will require digital skills.It’s essential to “communicate the excitement and diversity of future practice”, she said.

    She added that, to meet the Topol recommendations, a programme of digital education for the current workforce will need to be developed by the NHS, Health Education England and employers, alongside time set aside for staff to learn.

    McAnaw said that, in his experience, much healthcare technology is used at pilot level and “we struggle most in scaling it up”. Lacey-Bryant responded that “We have to put incentives in systems and frameworks, to allow things to be done at scale”.

     The next SPB meeting will be held on 22 January 2020


  • English Pharmacy Board meeting: 10 October 2019

    The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS’s) English Pharmacy Board (EPB) met at the Society’s London offices on 10 October 2019. Present at the meeting were Paul Bennett, chief executive of the RPS; John Lunny, public affairs manager at the RPS, Ravi Sharma, director for England at the RPS; and Robbie Turner, the Society’s director of pharmacy and member experience, who joined by video link.

    Guests at the meeting were Stephen Goundrey-Smith, consultant at SGS PharmaSolutions; Isobel Lowings, publication officer at the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association; Sunayana Shah, member of the RPS Industrial Pharmacy Forum; Jatinder Harchowal and Roger Fernandes of the RPS Hospital Expert Advisory Group; Sarah Cahill, clinical fellow at the RPS; Fatema Mamdani, member of RPS North West London; Mike Holden, member of RPS Wessex and Sumayya Kasuji, member of RPS West Yorkshire.

     Apologies were received from board members Thorrun Govind, Tracey Thornley and Ash Soni.

    As the meeting fell on World Mental Health Day, a number of board members and guests wore green in honour of the charity Pharmacist Support, with a collection for the charity being held at the meeting.

    EPB news

    Sharma noted that the RPS had that day launched a Great Britain-wide mental health and wellbeing survey, in partnership with the charity Pharmacist Support. This forms the start of a campaign for wellbeing in the pharmacy workforce and as part of this campaign the RPS is calling for all pharmacists to be able to access NHS-funded mental health support.

    Goundrey-Smith said that the RPS would be developing a position on digital capabilities within pharmacy. He then ran a workshop in which he asked board members to consider what this position should incorporate. Following a short breakout session, board members proposed areas including funding for training, lobbying for interoperability, and equity with other healthcare professions: it was noted that pharmacy contractors have to buy their own IT systems, whereas GPs have their IT systems bought for them.

    Policy and public affairs

    Sharma told the board that the NHS will produce a document in April 2020 on pharmacogenomics and its implementation across the NHS. He said that the RPS wants to prepare a position statement on pharmacists and pharmacogenetics, as part of the RPS’s science team strategy for 2020.

    Sharma predicted that pharmacogenomics will be commonplace in community pharmacy and general practice in five to ten years, adding that “we need a base level of literacy” on the subject.

    In public affairs news, Lunny said that the Society was maintaining ongoing contact with the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and other stakeholders around Brexit, and contingency planning to secure continued patient access to medicines.

    Education and professional development

    Referring to the ‘NHS people plan’, Gail Fleming, director for education and professional development at the RPS, noted that the priority for pharmacy was the plan for a nationwide foundation programme and that the Society was lobbying on that, “advocating what can be done with foundation pharmacist training”.

    Asked if funding for the foundation plan had been secured, Fleming said: “That’s why we’re lobbying; the money in the interim people plan is not enough. We are lobbying for the importance of foundation training in that.”

    Fleming said that a framework for the foundation programme was now ready and would be launched at the RPS Conference on 17 November 2019.

    Fleming also gave an update on proposals for a pharmacy degree apprenticeship, saying that the trailblazer group of employers were looking at feedback and that a new statement was expected imminently. The RPS’s feedback continues to include concerns regarding funding, she added.

    Since the EPB board meeting was held, the employer group has announced that it will work towards a second proposal for pharmacy degree apprenticeships, taking into account the concerns raised when the proposals were first published.

    Other business

    Finally, Buckle suggested that pharmacists, like medics, could take the Declaration of Geneva. She said this could “inspire young pharmacists as they enter the profession”, and asked for the board’s views on the idea, whether graduation or registration would be the most appropriate time and the role the RPS could take in facilitating it.

    The idea received wide support from the board, with Yeung saying that “belief is important, and it doesn’t have to be religious. It enables you to overcome barriers, and feel part of a collective”.

    Bennett agreed that “values and beliefs are really important”, and that he felt that graduation would be the optimal time. Bennett asked Buckle to explore the idea’s potential with Duncan Craig, head of the Pharmacy Schools’ Council.


     · The next EPB meeting will be held on 30 January 2020


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More Royal Pharmaceutical Society views

More Royal Pharmaceutical Society news

  • Deaths: Patricia Downes (née Anderson)

    On 28 October 2019, Patricia Downes (née Anderson) FRPharmS, aged 89, of Pocklington, York. Dr Downes registered with the Society in 1952.  Donations in Dr Downes’ memory may be made to Dementia UK at:  

  • Deaths: Poornima Patel

    On 3 November 2019, Poornima Patel MRPharmS, aged 63, of London. Mrs Patel registered with the Society in 1980.  Donations in Ms Patel’s memory may be made to St. Christopher’s Hospice at

  • Deaths: Jennifer Taylor

    On 3 November 2019, Jennifer Taylor MRPharmS, aged 58, of Edinburgh. Mrs Taylor registered with the Society in 1985. 

  • Tribute: Terence Dudley Turner

    Terry registered as a pharmacist in 1955 and, throughout his long and varied career within the profession of pharmacy, he was always one of its principle protagonists. He began his academic career in 1957 as a lecturer in microbiology at the Welsh School of Pharmacy, and progressed to become senior lecturer in pharmacognosy and head of the Pharmacognosy department. He gained his MPharm in 1960 for work on the pharmacognosy of certain species of Strychnos.

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