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Sandra Gidley: Technician membership issue “needs resolving”

The questions of whether the Royal Pharmaceutical Society should seek Royal College status and whether membership should then be open to pharmacy technicians are high on RPS president Sandra Gidley’s agenda, she has told Pharmacy Magazine.

In an interview published in the November issue of Pharmacy Magazine, Ms Gidley told editor Richard Thomas her thinking on Royal College status had changed: “In the past I was against becoming a Royal College because I thought we weren’t ready. I believe we’re now in a position to start engaging with our members about this, although we need to clearly articulate what the advantages of Royal College status are.”

When pressed on whether she wished to see a Royal College of Pharmacists or a Royal College of Pharmacy – which most believe would accept pharmacy technicians as members – she responded: “A Royal College of Pharmacy would be a lot clearer and give us more credence in speaking on the widest range of issues.”

However, Ms Gidley said it would be for members to decide, and that if there is no appetite to become a Royal College “then frankly there are other things we should be spending our time, money and effort on”.

Similarly, her views on pharmacy technician membership have “changed considerably,” she said, adding “I think attitudes as a whole are shifting as well”.

She claimed the Society had ducked the issye for too long: “Whatever our personal views, this is an issue that needs resolving. It will be for the members to decide.”

Membership “a clear focus"

Ms Gidley told Pharmacy Magazine that improving membership engagement was a “clear focus of mine”.

She said she planned to build on initiatives such as the Society’s pharmacy diversity and inclusion programme, a strategy for which will be published in 2020. She also pointed to a survey of pharmacists’ mental health and wellbeing and a new mentoring service for RPS members, both of which have been launched in recent months.

When asked, she did not disclose the Society’s membership numbers “as this changes all the time” but has acknowledged “a little bit of a dip” in recent times.

She rejected the findings of a CIG survey from earlier this year which suggested many pharmacists felt the Society was out of touch when it came to issues affecting community pharmacy.

“Our own [unpublished] research doesn’t paint the same picture,” she said.

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