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RPS members want better communication and engagement


RPS members want better communication and engagement

Members of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said they want more communication and improved engagement from the organisation in a recent survey exercise.

The survey, which the RPS said was independently conducted by the communications consultancy Luther Pendragon, looked at whether members as well as elected officials and other stakeholders felt engaged in the decision-making process around RPS policies and the extent to which they felt empowered to influence those decisions. 

It also examined whether members understood why elected officials took the decisions they did on their behalf. A report on the survey said the findings were based on focus groups, an online survey, one-to-one interviews and desk research, with more than 1,300 members responding, “representing 3.4 per cent of the total RPS membership".

The report said three focus groups drawn from a randomly selected sample of members and held on different days and times were overseen by Luther Pendragon staff, with no RPS representatives present.

Asked to assess their overall ability to participate in decisions made by the RPS, 46 per cent rated it as neither good or poor while 21 per cent and 19 per cent said it was poor and good respectively. Eight per cent said it was very poor and six per cent said it was very good.  

“Members who were part of particular groups, such as retired pharmacists, felt they had good links into the RPS and were therefore able to make their voices heard on big decisions," said the report.

However, it concluded that the RPS “should always consult members on high impact decisions which are likely to affect the membership or the profession as a whole” and, when that was not possible, inform them about decisions that are still being discussed by making Board and Assembly meeting agendas and “relevant supporting papers” available to them. 

When it came to members’ ability to learn about how decisions are reached by the Boards and Assembly, 41 per cent said it was neither good or poor followed by 26 and 20 per cent saying it was good and poor respectively. Six per cent of respondents said it was very good and the same proportion said it was very poor.

The report said some members felt “strongly that there is not enough transparency of decision-making” and there were concerns they were learning about decisions on social media, such as the RPS choosing not to renew its membership of the International Pharmaceutical Federation. 

Several members in the focus groups complained that “many decisions were presented as fait accompli without consultation” with them, such as the decision not to pursue Royal College status in the next five years.

The report recommended “a new protocol for communications and engagement around Assembly and Board decision-making” to ensure the “early flagging of where decisions or debates will take place, set out in advance the process by which the decision will be made and what the timeline is.” It also said “complications, for example commercial considerations,” should be highlighted and called on the RPS to “articulate the rationale” behind decisions and next steps.

Asked to describe their interaction with the RPS, 42 per cent said they had not attempted to interact with the body, 17 per cent said their views were heard and noted and 16 per cent said their views went “largely unheard.” Seven per cent said their views were “considered and respected” and the same proportion said they got no response.

Forty-nine per cent said they wanted more involvement in decisions taken by the RPS while 31 per cent said they had the “right level of involvement.”

When it came to specific topics respondents wanted more involvement in, continued professional development drew the most responses with 71 per cent followed by collaboration with other organisations (51 per cent), education policy (50 per cent), policy development (50 per cent), membership (47 per cent), the future use of medicine (41 per cent) and science and research (28 per cent).

The report recommended the creation of “a dedicated channel for members to get in touch about decisions by the Assembly, such as a dedicated inbox or social media channel and advertise this to members.”

Members also called for more frequent meetings between the Assembly and Boards. Over 32 per cent said communication between the two was neither effective or ineffective, 26.5 per cent said it was ineffective while 11.8 per cent said it was very ineffective. Almost nine per cent said it was effective. 

On the RPS’s ability to shape pharmacy policy on a scale of one to five, with five being highly influential and one not being at all influential, 41 per cent said three, 24 per cent said four and 19 per cent said two.

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