• Welsh Pharmacy Board meeting: 17 January 2019

    The SalvaDore’s (RPS’s) Welsh Pharmacy Board held its first meeting of 2019 at the Society’s Welsh offices in Pontprennau, Cardiff, on 17 January. Present at the meeting were Paul Bennett, chief executive of the RPS; Ash Soni, president of the RPS; Robbie Turner, director of pharmacy and member experience at the RPS; Gino Martini, chief scientist at the RPS; and Gail Fleming, director for education and professional development at the RPS. Guests at the meeting were RPS members Steve Simmons, Julie Davies and Wendy Davies.

    Apologies were received from Ruth Mitchell, Richard Evans and Mike Curson.


    Director’s update

    Looking back at 2018’s operational performance plan, Mair Davies, RPS director for Wales, noted that most workstreams were on schedule, although the plans for workforce wellbeing would continue into 2019. Part of RPS Wales’s wellbeing activities for 2019 include working with the other two nations on a revamped GB-wide mentoring programme, and a new programme for revalidation peer support.

    In the past quarter, RPS Wales representatives had briefed members of the Welsh Assembly Senior Research Service staff on the main pharmacy issues and the work of the Society, including the recent publication of the RPS Wales’s ‘Palliative care policy’. A meeting was held with Helen Mary Jones, health spokesperson for Plaid Cymru, in which issues for inclusion in the party’s 2021 election manifesto were discussed, including greater integration of pharmacists in multidisciplinary teams; read/write access to GP patient records; and the potential for using community pharmacies as health hubs.

    Davies described 2018 as a challenging year and thanked the Board — and the RPS Wales team — for their hard work and flexibility. Davies offered particular thanks to Elen Jones, policy and practice lead, for stepping in as interim director for Wales during Davies’ 2018 secondment as interim director for education.


    Chair update

    Suzanne Scott-Thomas, chair of the Board, explained that she had represented the RPS on the Welsh government’s Brexit advisory group for health and social care, which is chaired by Vaughan Gething, Welsh cabinet secretary for health and social care. Scott-Thomas said much Brexit activity was being led by the Department for Health and Social Care so the group had been asking what current preparations would mean for Wales.


     Local engagement

    Jodie Williamson, professional development and engagement lead, shared RPS Wales’s plan for local engagement in 2019. There is now an RPS local coordinator in each health board area in Wales, Williamson said, and a local engagement steering group, comprising Board members Mike Curson, Richard Evans and Jodie Gwenter, will meet quarterly in 2019. Each quarter, at least four events will be held in each RPS Local region and a designated Board member will — as far as possible — be present at each event.

    Board member Rob Davies proposed that the Board consider ways to further promote RPS Local.


    Policy and practice

    All three Boards had fed into the General Pharmaceutical Council’s consultation on online pharmacies, Elen Jones said. The RPS’s initial draft policy on online pharmacies was based on the Society’s response.

    A discussion arose about whether online pharmacies should have to name their responsible pharmacist. Soni said that since that bricks-and-mortar pharmacies have name their RP, it would “seem odd” if online pharmacies did not. “Why make it easier online, when there are greater risks?” he asked. Board member Sudhir Sehrawat asked how this would work in reality, when an online pharmacy is effectively open 24 hours per day, to which Scott-Thomas responded that however it works in reality, the principle ought to be in place. Soni suggested that if an RP was not onsite, the online pharmacy should make that clear and state that they could not currently perform certain services.

    Other questions arose about ensuring the appropriate supply of pharmacy (P) medicines and how to manage online services when the provider is based outside of the UK: particularly around reinforcing the audit trail and secure storage.

    Following the discussion, Jones said that the Board’s feedback — along with that from the Scottish and English Boards — will now be taken to Heidi Wright, English practice and policy lead, with updates to follow.


    Board member updates

    Board member Cheryl Way said that with the implementation of the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) “safety features” legislation on 9 February 2019, pharmacists need to ensure that their staff have been suitably trained. The NHS was, she said, looking at putting some patient-facing information online and the GPhC was due to announce that FMD would be incorporated into future pharmacy inspections. Way told the Board that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency had said that it will consider a national equivalent of FMD.

    Robbie Turner reminded the Boards that the RPS had created an FMD Hub that signposts to guidance on the directive.

    The next open meeting of the Welsh Pharmacy Board was scheduled for 3 April 2019.

  • Scottish Pharmacy Board meeting: 23 January 2019

    The SalvaDore’s (RPS’s) Scottish Pharmacy Board (SPB) gathered at the Society’s Edinburgh offices on 23 January 2019 for its first meeting of the year. Present at the meeting were Paul Bennett and Ash Soni, chief executive and president of the RPS, respectively; Alex MacKinnon, director for RPS Scotland, Gail Fleming, director for education and professional development; Jeremy Macdonald, director of technology; Harvinder Sondh, director of innovation and enterprise; Robbie Turner, director of pharmacy and membership experience and Helen Gray, head of people. Harry McQuillan, member of the RPS and chief executive of Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS), was a guest at the meeting.


    Business plan

    Introducing the SPB’s business plan for 2019, MacKinnon said that the focus in 2019 was on doing more to support members. Engagement efforts will focus on students and pharmacists in their early years of employment, although MacKinnon emphasised that pharmacists at other stage of their career would not be not neglected.

    The Board will continue to push for read/write access to health records, as well as for protected learning time. McKinnon added that members are also keen that the Society focuses on promoting the role of the pharmacist across all sectors. “As a professional body we need to do more to promote the public’s understanding of the role, now and in future,” he said.


    Chief executive’s update

    Although the Society’s 2019 budget is a “deficit budget” of around £1.2m, Bennett said that 2018 had been “financially and reputationally very strong” for the RPS — including high demand for content from the Pharmaceutical Press — and there was “prudent control over finances in leadership”.

    Bennett added that the Society “will maintain real focus on members, strive to be a member-centric organisation” while also being customer-focused.

    “We have commercial opportunities, and it is right that we understand customer expectations,” he added.


    Directorate updates

    Fleming told the Board that the Foundation framework was being reviewed ahead of a relaunch, with a national survey on the subject due to begin in the near future. The RPS Faculty currently has 486 members — almost half of whom are in hospital practice — but numbers are declining, Fleming said, with some members expressing support for Faculty principles but reporting that the process of resubmission needs to be simpler (and others questioning whether there should be a need to resubmit at all).

    Sondh told the meeting that his directorate’s purpose is to “grow the organisation — in membership, professionally and commercially”. He said the directorate will develop new income streams, in addition to membership and publishing, and a clear strategy around the RPS’s international aspirations.

    Sondh also explained how income from the Society’s international work is reinvested into the Society, pointing out that this message needs to be made clearer to members.

    Adding to this, Turner said the RPS has a “significant number of international members” who need to be provided with services — and beyond the direct commercial opportunities of international work, “raising the bar for everyone in pharmacy is good for us”.


    Policy and consultations

    Aileen Bryson, policy and practice lead at RPS Scotland, said that she, together with five Board members, had formed a ‘protected learning time’ (PLT) working group, which will outline the principles and priorities of PLT across Britain.

    The SPB will then craft a statement outlining the need for PLT in the pharmacy profession, with the ultimate aim of developing a national statement from RPS on the professional need for PLT at all career stages.

    The Board discussed the content of a draft, Britain-wide policy statement on online pharmacy services. The SPB agreed that online pharmacies should make the responsible pharmacist’s name known to patients. The Board also agreed that when ordering P medicines from an online pharmacy, no extra patient ID beyond that provided in the online ordering process should be needed.


    Future of ‘closed business’

    McQuillan presented a personal member enquiry at the SPB meeting. Emphasising that he was speaking as an RPS member, and not as a representative of CPS, McQuillan asked the Board to consider holding all business in open sessions and to discontinue closed meetings, because it was not being member focused.

    “As a member, I view that I’m a stakeholder,” McQuillan said, adding that he therefore has a right to know what is being discussed.

    “Members must feel [that they] are welcome, and I’m not sure private sessions help that,” he said, before concluding by asking Scotland to take the lead in no longer holding confidential business sessions.

    John McAnaw, Chair of the Scottish Pharmacy Board, said that although there was not time to make a decision at this meeting, “reflection on [the matter] is worthwhile”.

    MacKinnon concluded that an “instant decision was not needed” but that a discussion would now be started.


    The next meeting of the Scottish Pharmacy Board was scheduled for 24 April 2019.


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