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Why I left the RPS but rejoined 16 months later

Ross Ferguson
Ross Ferguson


IT wasn’t a Damascene conversion, more of a slowly dawning realisation that after my 16 months in the pharmacy wilderness away from membership of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society that it was time to return to the organisation that for most of my professional life had guided with one hand and scolded with the other.

At the time I was delighted to leave the RPS as I felt it had nothing to offer that I couldn’t get elsewhere and the memory of an arrogant, self-serving organisation where political infighting and cliques were the order of the day (prior to the split from the regulatory role) was a contributory factor. Back then it was an organisation that threatened to rip itself apart while the irksome membership watched from the sidelines.

But now after a period of reflection and what I see as significant changes, membership is now far more appealing. For starters, the RPS has a unique offering, and you may be fed up with people banging on about it – The RPS Faculty – but stifle that yawn and don’t stop reading, I once felt exactly the same. But I’ve realised there are many advantages to the Faculty and you’d have to be a diehard cynic to ignore the professional benefits – not least of all the fact that in the future the Faculty portfolio could be submitted to the GPhC as evidence of continuing fitness to practice.

I started completing my Faculty portfolio a few months back (i.e. trying to remember what I’ve done in the last 20 years and making some sort of sense of it) and will be submitting it shortly.

But more importantly the impression I get is that the RPS has a strong leadership team and a discernible strategic direction. A leadership team that, 5 years on after divesting the regulatory role, looks like it has saved the organisation from the brink and importantly they appear to have real passion and commitment for pharmacy. This is matched by the enthusiasm and dedication of the Board members who despite having successful careers find the time and energy to commit to the profession.

Combine this with the great efforts of the public relations team who ensure that pharmacists, now more than ever before, are appearing on national TV and radio programmes to promote pharmacy and provide pharmacy expertise when required and things are certainly looking up for the RPS.

I think the profession now has an organisation of which it can be proud. And while I don’t agree with all the RPS’s viewpoints, I now feel more confident that it is an organisation that strives to represent the best interests of its members. We may have passed the danger phase for the RPS where its existence was under threat and it has now settled comfortably in its niche, but for it to flourish it needs more pharmacist members – the more members it represents the stronger the organisation, which can only benefit the profession. The difficulty is convincing those pharmacists who resent the years when they were forced to be members of an organisation that failed to deliver for them, that the RPS now has something to offer.

Ross Ferguson is an ex-contractor, has been lead community pharmacist and pharmacy champion for a CHP in Scotland, a member of the contractors’ committee and also has experience as a locum and an employee pharmacist. He is a pharmacy & healthcare writer, member of the RPS Faculty and has created a children’s medicines app, Kid-Dose

Follow Ross @rosshferguson

2 thoughts on “Why I left the RPS but rejoined 16 months later”

  1. Hi Ross agree with your sentiments. The RPS is not the RPSGB of old. It is a different organisation and I stayed with them in 2010, but mainly due to the fact that I realised GPhC would never ‘discuss’ options if I needed advice. They are v rule book orientated (as it should be to an extent).
    One of the greatest advantages of the RPS is the busy support line team. I spent one day working in the office next to their base and the diversity of the calls that came through was amazing. All were answered professionally and confidently. For me this is one of the greatest strengths within RPS when you are alone at work with a dilemma. They are only a call away whether you are a trainee seeking support after failing your exam or whether you are standing in a dispensary with a potentially fraudulent prescription.

    1. Hi Debbie, thanks for commenting. Yes, I’ve found that with the GPhC (and the RPSGB when it had the regulatory role) they seem to tread very carefully when answering queries. Frustrating as they are the body that will come to see you if you make the wrong decision.
      Often you just need professional reassurance, and as you rightly say the RPS is in a good position to offer that.

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