The Royal Pharmaceutical Society's (RPS) assembly is 'supportive' of re-joining the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), it said, after considering the 'strength of feeling' over its decision in March not to renew membership.

The decision not to renew its FIP membership was a financial one, the RPS has previously confirmed, with a cost of about £84,000 a year and 'no perceptible value', RPS president Professor Claire Anderson said.

However, the RPS has now announced that the assembly is 'supportive of re-joining FIP’, following an assembly meeting on 20 July, and said it will be 'asking members whether they support re-joining FIP before making a final decision’.

Ms Anderson explained that motions on FIP and Royal College status were also discussed at the body's AGM in May, and said 'we heard the strength of feeling among some members on these issues, which was then brought to the assembly meeting’.

She said she is 'pleased' the assembly is in support of re-joining the federation, but explained that it is subject to 'further discussion with FIP after their September council meeting’, as well as consultation with RPS members, 'with outcome of that engagement for decision at the next assembly meeting in November’.

‘Lack of transparency’

RPS members complained in March about the lack of transparency around the body's decision to leave FIP, and Ms Anderson said the assembly's decision to have discussions around its FIP membership in private was 'the wrong call'.

However, referring to the latest developments regarding FIP membership, the RPS has said 'the assembly has decided [it] won’t be publishing the confidential records of discussion and confidential papers regarding FIP membership’.

Meanwhile, Ms Anderson said she has requested an independent review into how RPS members, elected members and stakeholders can feel 'engaged, informed and empowered to influence decisions' about RPS policy, as well as 'increasing transparency around decision-making' at board and assembly level’.

She added that 'recommendations following the review will be made public in September, as will the subsequent decisions made by assembly to implement the review’.

In addition, she said 'assembly has agreed some requests made at the AGM to improve transparency and requested further information to be presented at the next meeting on the implication of others, for example recording assembly and board meetings’.

Royal College U-turn

Meanwhile, the RPS has also said it will also 'incorporate pursuit of Royal College status into [its] strategy', which is a U-turn on its decision not to pursue Royal College status in March 2021 - a call made without the backing of its members and fellows. 

In March this year, Ms Anderson explained the assembly had decided there was ‘no evidence’ that changing its name would give RPS any more influence or prestige, adding that pursuing Royal College status would require ‘substantial work and cost’, which would need to be ‘diverted from other activities’.

On 20 July, however, she said the RPS will 'incorporate pursuit of Royal College status into [its] strategy whenever it is appropriate and at that time ask [its] membership for their views to gauge the level of support for this move’.

The RPS will 'soon' publish the key priorities within its strategy for education and membership, Ms Anderson said, which 'outlines [its] determination to ensure the profession's future and parity with other professions by enabling individuals to continually progress through their careers’.

She said: 'We will continue to pursue our ambitions in professional education and development through our assessment and credentialling work and seek delegated authority to become the provider of this for pharmacy.'

Ms Anderson has emphasised that RPS members will be consulted on both FIP membership and Royal College status 'to better understand their views before taking further steps’.