Dr Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer for England, will be stepping down and retiring in February 2022 after 16 years in the role, it has been confirmed. 

Dr Ridge took up the role in 2006 after leaving his position as head of pharmacy services at the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. 

As the Government's most senior advisor on medicines and pharmacy, he has worked at both a regional and national level leading over 70,000 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians registered in England.  

He also leads a smaller team of pharmacy professionals which includes 14 chief pharmaceutical officer clinical fellows. 

Dr Ridge began his career as chief pharmaceutical officer by introducing medicines optimisation into pharmacy practice in England which has since been adopted across the NHS.  

He later developed education and training standards for independent pharmacist prescriber courses, which underpinned their deployment across the other UK nations.  

Among other achievements Dr Ridge introduced clinical pharmacy practice into general practices. He also pushed for more clinical services to be made available in community pharmacies.  

Over his career, Dr Ridge has led several Government and NHS reviews, including medicines safety, access to cannabis-based medicinal products, and more recently overprescribing of medicines.  

Following the Shipman inquiry, he worked on the development of a new system for the governance of controlled drugs. He later led the establishment of the first independent professional regulator for the pharmacy profession to ensure the highest standards of patient safety and care. 

Commenting on Dr Ridge’s departure, Mark Lyonette, chief executive officer or the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) said: ‘As it is for so many people in health care, Keith’s handling of the coronavirus crisis has been perhaps his biggest test.  

‘I hope he uses the rest of his time in post to embed a pharmacy-conscious culture amongst colleagues throughout NHS England.   In particular, the concept of community pharmacy as the front door to the NHS needs to be more widely understood in the health care professional and managerial establishment.’