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Do pharmacists want the RPS to rejoin FIP?

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) is consulting with its members on whether it should rejoin the FIP, after it decided "not to renew [its] organisational membership" earlier this year. So what do pharmacists think?

In an email sent yesterday (November 1), the RPS invited its members to share their views on whether it should rejoin the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), after many reported being “unhappy” with its decision to withdraw from the Netherlands-based global body in March.

The RPS has previously said that in making the decision to leave FIP's network of 140 pharmacy member organisations, it “carefully considered how best to serve members and meet charter obligations”.

The move would also help it “focus on [the] delivery of [its] mission and vision” while remaining “outwardly focused and [an] internationally aware organisation”, it said at the time.

Read more: RPS quits pharmacy body that it helped found in 1912

The RPS assembly initially decided to withdraw from FIP’s network “following discussions about [its] membership of a range of international organisations”, RPS chief executive Paul Bennett and president Claire Anderson told members yesterday (November 1).

The assembly has now expressed a wish to rejoin FIP in January 2023 and will discuss RPS members' opinions on the matter during its next meeting later this month, they added.


Instant reaction


C+D asked pharmacists – all of whom are RPS members – whether they thought the RPS should re-attach itself to the organisation it helped found in 1912. 

Pharmacist Tony Schofield told C+D he very much welcomed the RPS's decision to consult its members on the decision and supported the move to rejoin the global body.

“When I got the email, I replied to it immediately and I thanked them for doing it,” he said.

“But it shouldn't be necessary. We shouldn't be out of the FIP.”

Manor Pharmacy Group pharmacist and managing director Graham Phillips echoed Mr Schofield in supporting the move.

“I've no idea why they left,” he said, likening the RPS’s split from “the worldwide community of pharmacy” to “the professional equivalent of Brexit”.

Mr Phillips said the decision to leave the FIP seemed “arbitrary” and accused the RPS of not holding a “proper consultation” before making the move.

Following the backlash against the RPS's decision to withdraw from FIP in March, Ms Anderson claimed there was a “mutual agreement” with the FIP not to announce the decision. “Perhaps, in this case, it was the wrong call,” she conceded at the time.

Meanwhile, lead pharmacist at Bedminster Pharmacy in Bristol, Ade Williams, told C+D he welcomed the consultation with members “because it allows [the RPS] to make a decision that fits better with what [members’] aspirations are”.

“It’ll be good to be able to have better, clearer insight into how the decision is being made, and what factors are being considered,” he explained.


Perception matters


“Perception matters a lot. Not least after Brexit,” Mr Williams commented.

Being a member of international organisations such as the FIP keeps the RPS and the pharmacy profession “outward looking”, he said.

He noted it was important that UK-based organisations such as the RPS are not perceived as “drawing up the drawbridge” against international organisations after leaving the European Union.

“We don't want to be seen to be withdrawing from the world,”  he said.


Learning opportunities


Mr Schofield pointed out that there are “examples of practice around the world that we want to learn from”.

He continued: "I mean, we were the first country in the world to have independent prescribing for pharmacists. So I felt that we could contribute a lot to the debate.”

“There are lots of things being done differently in other parts of the world. People always say, well, you know, local circumstances are different," he pointed out. “Well, actually, you can learn from everything everybody else is doing.”

“I think the FIP is a really good place to be discussing this sort of thing,” he added. 

RPS members can submit their views on the RPS's membership of the FIP by 9am on November 14.



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