I decided to stand for election after being involved with my local RPS for a number of years. I think RPS in Wales does a great job at promoting the profession with Government and other professions, but isn’t great at letting pharmacists know what it’s doing, how it benefits them and the opportunities for pharmacy that follow. We need to show pharmacists the benefits of membership
I am also standing because I’m concerned that community pharmacy is being left behind and want to make sure the reality for grassroots pharmacists is heard. The push for GP based pharmacists is great both for the individuals who have taken those opportunities and for highlighting our skills as a profession. We need drastic restructuring of the contract to allow for investment in properly trained support staff and a professional environment enabling community pharmacists to contribute to that agenda. The RPS may say that they are a professional body not a negotiating body or a trade union, but we need the basics to be right for the profession to flourish. I think we really need for the RPS to be more vocal in challenging the attacks on our profession.
I absolutely support the Pharmacist Defence Association Safer Pharmacies Charter. The points have come from feedback from pharmacists and to be honest it makes me ashamed that we even have a need for this campaign. It’s really not rocket science. The elements that make up the charter are basics that should be a given. Unfortunately these basics are often not met.
I chose not to take part in the election Telegram hustings as it clashed with the Annual Wales RPS debate. The topic this year was ‘Remote Supervision’. I think someone needs to define ‘Remote Supervision’ really clearly because if it means taking the pharmacist absolutely away from the pharmacy then patient safety will suffer. The argument for the motion was to allow the pharmacist to operate at the ‘top of their licence’. We can do that now if the right number and calibre of support staff are in place, but we are still there and accessible. The beauty of community pharmacy is that anyone can walk through that door and ask a question or show us something that ‘I didn’t want to bother the Dr with’. If we take that away then we will do communities and the NHS a disservice.
The opportunities for us to network as a profession to best support patients and help the NHS are there but we need to be better at taking them. Perhaps local RPS facilitation could support this?
I don’t have a superpower to bring to the Welsh Pharmacy Board and don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I will support and challenge in equal measure. I believe a mix of skills, sectors, experience and personalities makes for a balanced board along of course with a passion for pharmacy.
Helen Lewis is a pharmacist working in Wales and is running for election to the Welsh Pharmacy Board this year.