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Vox pop: why are you not a member of the RPS?

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David Steele, locum pharmacist

I HAVEN’T been a member of the RPS since compulsory membership ceased. As a student and a young pharmacist the RPSGB was thought of as this amazing pharmaceutical utopia where we would be represented, defended and educated.

The reality, unfortunately, was that it achieved none of these.

Pharmacy was, and is still, not significantly recognised for the work we do in community, hospital or in industry. Any media reporting is invariably negative, poorly reported and rarely called to task by the RPS.

Doctors and nurses as professional bodies pull together for the greater good, but we still are in limbo over criminal charges for dispensing errors. There has been no action on the disgusting low locum rates in most areas of the country and the fact that many staff working within a pharmacy get paid the minimum wage.

In recent years it’s perhaps unfair to single out the RPS, but until they promote a greater voice for pharmacy then I’m afraid that I’m happy to do without the PJ or other reference sources which are easily found online.

I have been heartened by recent developments of proactive pharmacists now having a greater input, and I hope that this narrows the large gap that now exists between those governing pharmacy and the everyday pharmacist working hard 5/6/7 days a week.

 

Neeraj Salwan, owner of the Reach Pharmacy group

ON a personal note when one of my pharmacists was accused of misconduct and brought up in front of the Fitness to Practice Committee there was absolutely no support from the RPSGB. He was given an interim order which restricted his practice for over 2 yrs, which is how long it took them to hear his case.

During this period the personal toll on him was very serious, but the RPSGB Inspector was of no help. He was cleared of the complaint by the police after they interviewed him, but still treated as guilty by the RPSGB until proven innocent. During the whole period I formed the opinion that the RPSGB were there only to make an example of their members unlike the British Medical Association (BMA) who actually support their members.

Luckily my pharmacist was a member of the PDA who were amazing throughout the whole incident.

I am a member of one pharmacy body — the GPhC — and believe pharmacy should be represented by only one united professional body. I refuse to pay fees to the plethora of organisations out there who claim to support pharmacy as I think it is pointless having so many.

All the representative bodies and their separate departments should be merged therefore keeping overheads down for members. Different levels of membership could be offered above the mandatory basic level with the individual making his/her own choice to pay extra for other levels.

And finally, I find that a lot of what the RPS do seems to be duplicated and done just as well by other organisations, they:

  • Reply to consultations and ensure the voice of the whole profession is heard at the highest levels of healthcare and government through direct advocacy — so do Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS).
  • Promote pharmacy — so do the National Pharmacy Association (NPA).
  • Lead the pharmacy profession to improve the public’s health and wellbeing — so do local health boards.
  • Provide timely and relevant medicines information and advice — so does the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
  • Support members and customers to improve health outcomes for society and deliver this through professional development and support; the provision of quality medicines information and advice —  so does Numark and trade magazine CPD modules.
Brian Gallagher, pharmacy manager

AT the time of the split into the professional and regulatory functions I didn’t join the new organisation partly because I felt that the whole separation was a bit shambolic. It’s well in the past now, but my memories of it are of a poorly handled transition which left us with a regulator and a member organisation which seemed to lack a reason for existing.

I think there may have been an assumption, certainly a hope, that all members of the RPSGB would simply switch to being members of the RPS —  this certainly did not happen, perhaps others shared similar feelings to me.

What also niggled at the time was the issue of the certificate. Our certificates were hard-won badges of our training and professional standing; they were proof of membership of the defining professional body. Being a member meant you were a bona-fide pharmacist — to be a pharmacist, you had to be a member. As I said, it defined us, we were proud to display it.

This was removed overnight and we were reduced to displaying a piece of A4 paper, hot off the pharmacy’s laser printer. Disappointing and embarrassing at the same time.

I also recall that the RPSGB was ineffectual as a representative body, and I felt that in matters where the issue crossed both professional and regulatory boundaries, they were reluctant to offer advice. This memory carried past the split and fed into my decision not to join the new RPS.

After the years that have passed, I still have no pressing desire to join, and wonder what benefits it would bring.

 

Niral Nathwani, professional support manager

NEITHER my wife nor and I have been members since they started charging for membership. Prior to this we both never had time to read all the weekly journals and they used to pile up in the corner until they eventually got binned.

I felt that most of the articles in the journal weren’t really targeted towards community pharmacy and I found I got a better read from other publications that came free to community pharmacy.

However, I do always encourage my pre-regs to join the RPS as they get a discount on the BNF and a copy of the MEP which makes it worth it for them.

 

THE next Vox Pop will be: What worries you about revalidation? If you would like to take part, please e-mail Ross

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