The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has announced the appointment of a new chief strategy officer and deputy registrar who will lead on the ‘development and evaluation’ of the regulator’s strategic plan.

Louise Edwards, who is currently the director of regulation and digital transformation at the Electoral Commission, will succeed Mark Voce, who is taking early retirement in July 2024.

The chief strategy officer is one of four chief officers who share ‘delegated authority’ from the chief executive and registrar to lead the organisation and provide direction to senior management colleagues.

In her new role at the GPhC, Ms Edwards will be responsible for leading on the GPhC’s strategy, pharmacy education and training, regulation reform, equality, diversity and inclusion, and its public affairs and external communication work.

Speaking on her appointment, which starts in July, Ms Edwards said: ‘Pharmacy services are at the heart of health care for many people.

‘Having effective regulation and standards in place can transform and give confidence in the quality of care that people receive.’

Ms Edwards added that she was ‘delighted’ to be appointed and to have the opportunity to deliver the GPhC’s ‘vital work to improve the health and well-being of people using pharmacy services’.

She will be joining the regulator from her director position at the Electoral Commission, where she is responsible for the organisation’s regulatory work and digital, data, technology and facilities infrastructure.

Her prior work includes positions at the Charity Commission for England and Wales, The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Ofgem and the Home Office.

Duncan Rudkin, GPhC chief executive, said he looked forward to working with Ms Edwards, while paying tribute to the ‘enormous contribution’ of Mr Voce to pharmacy regulation.

‘Mark’s achievements include leading our programme of work to transform the education and training of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, both before and after registration,’ said Mr Rudkin.

And he added that Mr Voce had worked ‘closely and effectively with stakeholders across Great Britain to introduce once-in-a-generation reforms which will mean that from 2026, all newly qualified pharmacists will be independent prescribers when they join the register’.

‘Louise will continue this important work to make sure that the regulation of the education and training of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians is strategically designed, implemented and developed to deliver on the vision agreed by the Council,’ said Mr Rudkin.

‘Louise will also lead on the development and evaluation of our next five-year strategic plan, to help us to achieve our vision for safe and effective pharmacy care at the heart of healthier communities.’

He added that the chief strategy officer position played an ‘absolutely critical role in delivering our vision and objectives’.

‘I am delighted that Louise will be taking on the role when she joins us in July, and I look forward to working closely with her,’ said Mr Rudkin.