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PDA calls for greater transparency on Leadership Advisory Board membership

The PDA urges the new Leadership Advisory Board to be open and transparent with pharmacists if it hopes to gain their confidence.

Fri 19th April 2024 The PDA

The four government Chief Pharmaceutical Officers (CPhO) have written to all pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to confirm the identity of the board members they have selected for the UK Pharmacy Professional Leadership Advisory Board (UKPPLAB). The letter was additionally signed by the chair of the new board, who was also selected by the four CPhOs and who reports to the CPhO for England.

It is hoped that the UKPPLAB being established by the four CPhOs will lead to greater professional fulfilment for pharmacists and improved patient safety, but the PDA urges the new board to be open and transparent with pharmacists if it hopes to gain their confidence.

This government initiative is based on the report of a government funded commission in which the CPhOs:

  • Selected the members of the commission
  • Were advisors to the commission
  • Took part in the commission’s meetings
  • Were the recipients of the commission’s recommendations in a final report presented to them.

Subsequently, a new leadership advisory board has been created in which CPhOs:

  • Have chosen the board’s chair
  • Have participated in the interviews and approvals of the independent board members, and,
  • For which arrangements have been made for the NHS to pay board members remuneration

The PDA reiterates that the four CPhOs are the most senior pharmacists within the NHS, which is the largest employer of pharmacists in the UK. As well as being senior representatives of a large employer, they are also the most senior government representatives on pharmacy. The PDA maintains that it should be for pharmacists to determine the leadership of their profession, and not for employers of pharmacists nor governments.

Some board members will sit ex-officio, i.e. due to another position they hold, and will be replaced by their successor if they move on from that position. Other board members have been selected in their individual capacity.

In September 2022, the PDA highlighted that, “The list of commission members cites not their expertise, but the organisation they come from. Therefore, the impression is strongly given that the individuals have been chosen not because of their expertise as stated, but because they represent certain organisations.”

The latest communication about the UKPPLAB membership similarly associates the independent expert board members with an organisation. It is known that some of these individuals have multiple roles currently, and there is no explanation as to why only one role is listed for each person, nor how that one was chosen in preference to their other positions.

Full transparency is a basic expectation for this kind of a body, all appointees should make clear what their associations and involvements are in all aspects of their working lives to include the multiple organisations that they may be involved in. It is important for the profession to have as much confidence in the process as possible.

The PDA has consistently stated that it hopes that the exercise to re-invigorate professional leadership in pharmacy is successful, but the way in which this initiative is being undertaken could raise unnecessary concerns.

The PDA calls for greater transparency by publishing the following for each board member:

  1. For those representing an organisation:
  • What is the eligibility criteria for membership of their organisation?
  • How many members do they currently have in membership in the UK?
  • How is their organisation funded (e.g. membership subscriptions, pharmaceutical industry donations or both or other)?
  1. For individual board members:
  • A full declaration of their interests.
  1. Any remuneration arrangements for those sitting on the UKPPLAB.

The PDA believes that it is important that such information is made available as soon as possible to give stakeholders a greater understanding. Transparency will reassure the profession about the influences and perspectives represented on the board.

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