A UK-wide advisory board has been set up to bring together pharmacy professionals amid imminent changes to the professional landscape.
Over the next three to five years, the Independent Pharmacy Professional Leadership Advisory Board aims to support and enable collaborative working between organisations representing pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in different settings.
And it will speak ‘with one voice’ on behalf of the professions to government, regulators, patients, employers and others.
The board will also seek to develop a future more permanent arrangement for UK pharmacy professional leadership.
It is made up of 19 members, including the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK), British Oncology Pharmacy Association (BOPA), British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA), College of Mental Health Pharmacy (CMHP), Pharmacy Forum of Northern Ireland (PFNI), Primary Care Pharmacy Association (PCPA), Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), UK Clinical Pharmacy Association (UKCPA) and a representative from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.
The board will be independently chaired by Sir Hugh Taylor, who currently chairs the Health Foundation and acts as chief negotiations adviser on the Voluntary Pricing and Access Scheme for branded medicines (VPAS) for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
The roles are open to leaders ‘from diverse backgrounds who are able to represent the patient and public interest, and with expertise in a wide range of fields including leadership, education, policy, research, academia and engagement, as well as experience beyond the pharmacy professions’, said UK CPhOs Andrew Evans, Cathy Harrison, Alison Strath and David Webb.
They added that the independent expert members would help ensure the board is ‘broad, balanced and inclusive’.
They added: ‘There is an urgent need for the pharmacy professions to work collaboratively to deliver on their potential, and address together a wide range of professional issues.
‘We look forward to the new independent board engaging with pharmacy professionals across the UK to champion a new and dynamic phase of collaboration and create a positive future.’
The RPS welcomed the establishment of the board and the recruitment of expert members.
RPS President Professor Claire Anderson said: 'The collaborative nature of the board combined with significant changes and challenges in pharmacy means the time is right to join hands across the pharmacy professional bodies and special interest groups to develop a collective approach to leadership.
Future scope of practice, leadership, changes to education and training, how we embed professional standards and of course the changing role of pharmacy technicians means we must all work together to achieve the transformational change needed to benefit our patients.'
The establishment of the board follows the UK Commission on Pharmacy Professional Leadership, which published its report in February.
It found that there was insufficient collective leadership and that the ‘disjointed voice of the pharmacy professions’ is ‘holding back pharmacy from making the best contribution to UK healthcare’.
And it said that pharmacy professional leadership bodies had ‘yet to define fully’ the scope of practice for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.
This comes as the role of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians is set to change on a widespread scale, with the introduction of independent prescribing for all new pharmacists and a recent consultation on allowing pharmacy technicians to operate under patient group directions (PGDs).