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‘Despondency' remains a problem for RPS election turnout

RPS board members, fellows and pharmacists discuss why voter turnout remains below 12%

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) election results were announced on May 31, with 12 new members elected to the English, Scottish and Welsh national pharmacy boards.

The RPS called the turnout “historic” after 3,075 votes were submitted. However, this represents just 11.5% of the RPS’s total membership, down slightly from 11.7% last year.

An RPS report show that votes for the past two years marked a rise from rates of 9.3% and 10% for 2013 and 2014 respectively. But pharmacists asked whether failing to pass the 12% turnout mark meant the society had not made sufficient efforts to engage with the profession.

"Community pharmacy despondency" 

Sibby Buckle, a pharmacist and manager at a Boots branch in Nottingham, retained her place on the English pharmacy board in the election. She told C+D the poor turnout was partly due to “community pharmacy despondency” – in addition to the RPS’s online voting system, and low awareness of the election among pharmacists.

A community pharmacist tweeting as Pillman UK asked on Twitter: “How do we get better engagement in elections? Do the [pharmacy board members] feel 11.5% engagement is validation of their posts?”

"Validation of apathy"

RPS fellow and former president Steve Churton said the low turnout rate was “validation of the apathy of the profession”. While community pharmacist Hayley Gorton encouraged the RPS to “bridge the gap” between its national and local pharmacy boards.

The RPS told C+D it had “invested in increased activity” to raise awareness of the 2016 elections – which it said was comparable to elections for other professional bodies.

“We are not complacent and will be considering further actions we can take to improve turnout. However, it’s important these figures are put into context, for example the Royal College of General Practitioners recorded an election turnout of 12.5% in their recent council elections.”  

2016 RPS national pharmacy board election results – new members  

England Pharmacy Board
David Branford
Elizabeth Butterfield
Sibby Buckle (community pharmacist)
David Carter (community pharmacist)
Tracey Thornley

Scotland Pharmacy Board
John McAnaw
Kathleen Cowle (community pharmacist)
Johnathan Laird (community pharmacist)

Welsh Pharmacy Board
Sudhir Sehrawat (community pharmacist)
Ruth Mitchell (community pharmacist)
Jamie Hayes
Phil Parry 

Did you vote in the RPS elections this year?

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