Ridge calls for review of RPS progress on founding ambitions

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Ridge calls for review of RPS progress on founding ambitions

Pharmacists should “take stock” of where the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has got to since its establishment in 2010, former chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge has said as he called for an independent review of the organisation.  

Speaking at an RPS reception to mark his retirement after 16 years as CPhO for England, Mr Ridge said that he felt there was a groundswell of unhappiness with the current state of the organisation.

In recent weeks, a senior level restructure of the organisation had sparked concerns among senior members of the profession that the RPS had abandoned its ambition to become a royal college; this was followed by criticism of a decision to leave the international pharmacy organisation, FIP. 

He said: “I am worried about what’s going on in the RPS. Restructuring to remove the education director function. Why would a professional leadership body do that with such fundamental education reform going on, right now? Withdrawing from FIP.

“Why would a professional leadership body want to appear so inward looking? Turning away from becoming a royal college. So much more than a name change.” 

Mr Ridge said the creation of the RPS in 2010 as a new body with pharmacy education at its heart was an opportunity to build “a reputation to seriously influence Government, regulators and the public as to what pharmacy has to offer”. 

“Why would a professional leadership body do that when so many, from many RPS members to senior stakeholders, are so supportive of such an historic change?” he asked.

He said it was unfortunate this was happening at a time “when there is so much confidence in pharmacy, given the amazing contribution during the pandemic.”

Suggesting a review, Dr Ridge said: “This is no time for sticking plaster and delay. The profession and the RPS need to be open minded and brave about what needs to be done; willing to make some sacrifices to deliver the right future for the profession, for patients and for the public.

He urged those present: “Engage properly with the profession and wider stakeholders. Take the opportunity to be very clear what an excellent Royal College of Pharmacy looks like, what it does, why it’s important, why education should be at its heart, and where it fits in a complex leadership landscape. 

“Then set out an implementation plan - and commit to delivering it.”

He paid tribute to the “talented and dedicated people and teams in RPS who continue to try to deliver” in challenging times, and offered thanks to outgoing executives Robbie Turner and Gail Fleming “for their amazing achievements whilst they worked for the RPS”. 

The reception also heard tributes to Mr Ridge from RPS president Claire Anderson, Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK vice-president Ellen Williams, RPS English pharmacy board chair Thorrun Govind and Dr Ridge’s successor as CPhO David Webb.

Mr Webb said that he, together with his opposite numbers in Scotland and Wales, were discussing with the RPS the impact of its restructuring on education and training and professional leadership.

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