My name is Tohidul Islam.

I have been working as a locum pharmacist in the community sector for over 13 years. This has given me the privilege to work in a range of large multiple chain and small independent pharmacies. During this time I have observed, and experienced vast changes to the community sector landscape. The majority of these changes are a result of increasing cuts in funding, alongside the effort to maximise profits. This has had a negative impact on overall working practices, and increased the pressure of meeting targets. This has meant that extensive cuts in staffing-levels resulting in minimal support are now a commonplace; with self-checking becoming an increasing norm.

I frequently hear of pharmacists voicing their concerns in private forums, however they are afraid to questions these practices for fear of being targeted by employers and losing their employment. This coupled with the ever-decreasing income, oversupply of pharmacists and talk of remote supervision, is taking some to breaking point where they are leaving our great profession.

I decided that action was needed, and created a network for pharmacists to discuss the pertinent issues the profession was facing. It was envisaged that this network would connect every pharmacist, initially in the community sector to facilitate communication, and most importantly drive the changes the profession required. To date, this network is now one of the largest pharmacist professional, real-time networks for pharmacists in the UK.

Our extensive professional network includes dozens of pharmacists from the hospital sector, as well as experienced GP practice-based pharmacists and academics. We have representation from pharmacists with experience in the military, as well as those running distance-selling pharmacies.

This network has allowed me to understand the wider scale of problems faced by the grassroots pharmacists who are the backbone of the profession. I realised that further action was needed and that pharmacists required an understanding, and strong voice to facilitate change.

I felt that a first step to try to facilitate real change was to represent my colleagues in a professional forum.

I am putting myself forward to become a member of the The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) English Board. This will allow me to discuss these issues and influence positive change for the profession.

To do that I need your support!

I would encourage all RPS members to take part in the upcoming elections.

I need your to vote, to facilitate this change and provide a better future for all pharmacists.

I support a number of initiatives:

·      The PDA’s Safer Pharmacies Charter. [provide links here];

·      The RPS should be a professional body for Pharmacists, Pre-registration Pharmacists, and Pharmaceutical scientists. I think the bigger issue for the RPS is to encourage all pharmacists to be members of the RPS to ensure a strong professional body with real influence and powerful leadership; collaborating with other professions at home and on the international stage.

·      Stop remote supervision and tech supervision.

·      Increase engagement with both members and non-members on a regular basis on all things Pharmacy-related.

Overall it is my vision to have a strong and united profession. We need to unite and become active members of the RPS. It is our professional body, and only we can make it great. I feel that this is our only choice to improve our situation. I’m sure you’ll make the right decision.

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