Report shows strong support for a Royal College for the pharmacy profession

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A Royal College for the pharmacy profession came a step closer today, with the publication of a report by The King's Fund. The report summarises discussion and debate at a seminar held at the request of the Department of Health's working group on pharmacy regulation.

The King's Fund Chief Executive Niall Dickson, who chaired the event, says there was overwhelming support for establishing a Royal College to provide leadership for the profession and to replace the present somewhat fragmented structure.

In its White Paper on the regulation of the medical professions, published in February, the government outlined plans for the formation of a General Pharmaceutical Council to regulate pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, and suggested that:

'The profession will need a strong and clear voice to assume the critical responsibility of undertaking a role akin to that played by a Royal College, supporting clinical excellence in the profession.'

A Department of Health working group, led by Lord Carter, has been looking at how this new structure might be formed. The seminar, chaired by King's Fund Chief Executive Niall Dickson, brought together senior figures from the pharmacy profession.

Reporting back to Lord Carter, Niall Dickson says:

'There was concern that any new Royal College must reflect the many diverse interests within the profession, should not be dominated by any one section and that membership should be as wide as possible, for example, including pharmaceutical scientists.'

He also highlights the need for a wider consultation:

'The idea will have to be discussed throughout the profession, and its leaders will have to take the message throughout the country. This is not just about creating a new organisation: it is about widening consensus.

'Those working in the front line ‘will have to be convinced that it will bring real benefits to them and, more importantly, to their patients.'

The report also says it will be crucial that a new Royal College should have a secure financial base, and suggests the formation of a project board, reflecting the full range of organisations and interests in the profession, to take the work forward.

Niall Dickson concludes: 'It would be a mistake to deny the tensions within the profession or the anxiety in many quarters about the current uncertainty. However, the future is more important than the past, and if the profession can unite behind a shared vision that recognises the huge opportunity that now presents itself, then this generation of pharmacists can create a new institution with the potential to be a centre of excellence, not just in this country but throughout the world.'

Notes to editors

1. For printed copies of Professional Leadership in Pharmacy: Exploring the case for a Royal College for the pharmacy profession please contact the press team.

2. Trust, Assurance and Safety - The Regulation of Health Professionals

3. For further information or interviews, please contact the King’s Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.

4. The King’s Fund is an independent charitable foundation working for better health, especially in London. We carry out research, policy analysis and development activities, working on our own, in partnerships, and through funding. We are a major resource to people working in health and social care, offering leadership development programmes; seminars and workshops; publications; information and library services; and conference and meeting facilities.