RPS proposals could weaken the profession, warns Ridge

Profession

RPS proposals could weaken the profession, warns Ridge

Proposals to restructure the Royal Pharmaceutical Society executive team could make the profession weaker, former chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge has warned.

In an exclusive comment piece for CIG publications, Mr Ridge says the proposals, which were first revealed by Pharmacy Network News and which could see education director Gail Fleming and membership director Robbie Turner made redundant, would make the RPS “far less influential”.

He describes the creation of the director of education role as a “giant leap forward” for the fledgling RPS after it first split from the professional regulator at the start of the previous decade, writing that this has helped “accelerate the process of reforming pharmacy education”. 

These gains may be threatened if there is no longer a dedicated role on the executive team tasked with overseeing education, argues Mr Ridge, who stood down as CPhO for England in February after 16 years.

In particular, the proposals could threaten the Society’s ambitions to become an “effective, well respected Royal College,” he warns, potentially forcing the GPhC “to look elsewhere” for its steer on professional practice and ultimately impacting patient care.

“If a proposed executive level restructure makes the director of education and professional development post redundant, then I see little future for the RPS in influencing the development of education and training, and therein the profession itself,” he writes.

“If the proposal is to subsume leadership of this vital, transformative education role into a single professional function as part of a senior team increasingly dominated by the publications business, then what impact will this have?

“My expectation is that, over time, the RPS will be far less influential on policymakers, the media and other professions. Why would they take the view of a publisher?”

The timing of these proposals “could not be worse,” said Mr Ridge, pointing to the high levels of respect in Government circles for the sector’s role in the pandemic.

Noting a statement from RPS president Claire Anderson explaining that a final decision has not yet been made, he writes: “I hope it’s not too late… they can still do the right thing.”

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