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The PDA pledges: an EPB candidate view

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David Gallier-Harris


I AM a community pharmacist standing as a candidate in the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) English Pharmacy Board elections this year, so it was therefore with great interest that I read the recent publication of several statements by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) around the RPS elections.

I very much welcome that the PDA is engaging with the RPS, since both organisations want the absolute best for community pharmacy. I am also pleased to see that the PDA, in writing their statements, is supporting things that I have been saying for many years.

The PDA raises some very important issues. Pharmacy services are in a state of flux. It is no exaggeration to state that community pharmacy faces an existential threat. The ultimate goal should be that all pharmacy bodies should unite around a single vision and present a united front. The RPS is ideally placed to lead this discussion, and to achieve this inclusivity necessitates broad representation on the EPB.

The NHS is undoubtedly a fast-moving environment. I have worked across the sector as an employee of a large multiple, managing a small independent and working as a full-time locum. I am in touch with what matters to my peers and I understand the PDA’s concerns.

When the PDA first launched its Safer Pharmacies Charter, I signed up to it immediately. As objectives to deliver safer working environments for patients and professionals these aspirations are something which it’s hard to see any over-worked and stressed pharmacist working in a busy community pharmacy objecting to. They are universally acceptable.

We absolutely need a future strategy for pharmacy: A Murray-centric pharmacy contract? For certain, the future of pharmacy demands collaboration and change. I have said in my common goals for the sector this is something I support completely. Any fundamentally seismic change to the way we work demands cross-sector discussion, collaboration and a unified voice. The PDA should absolutely be part of those discussions as should PSNC, NPA, CCA, AIMP etc. The crucial role of the RPS is to provide the leadership and facilitate the dialogue, debate and, ultimately agreement on what the future looks like.

Remote supervision is a highly emotive term: to be clear I am 100% opposed to remote supervision or anything remotely close to it. I am a member of the Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme Board. Supervision Law review is part of the board’s remit. For years, I have been a vocal proponent of the value of Pharmacist Supervision – in the pharmacy, holding accountability for each transaction. As a patient-facing pharmacist, maintaining pharmacist supervision has been a red line for me as you can read in my C&D article The debate over technicians supervising pharmacies is a distraction.

A strong voice for pharmacists: absolutely this is what I want from my RPS. There are a ton of issues facing pharmacy at the moment. We must focus on issues such as the savage funding cuts and the fundamental way we need to change our way of working to better help patients and equally help members. These are the conversations we need to be having right now and where the RPS needs to be focussing its resources and energy.

The profession needs to change: we all need to move forward, this means ALL parties engaging – Moving Forward Together. It’s fantastic that the PDA encourages its members to join the RPS and engage with the organisation. I hope this piece goes some way to addressing the questions the PDA poses to me as a candidate for the EPB. I am no-one’s ‘yes man’. I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe.  I would be more than happy to discuss my views further with any RPS member or the PDA.

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