BARELY had the votes for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Board elections been counted, verified and published when the traditional navel-gazing post mortem commenced.
Why, why, why? The sombre observers picked over the election bones on Twitter and the casket was opened to reveal that professional enthusiasm had died.
With voter turnouts of 9.95% in England, 21.35% in Wales and 21.49% in Scotland, giving an overall turnout of 11.48%, the consensus is that pharmacists are apathetic about RPS board elections.
While obviously disappointing, this is how the the turnout compares with some other professional bodies:
Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons – 16.1%
British Dental Association – 15.7%
Royal College of General Practitioners – 14.6%
Royal College of Nursing* – 3%
(* Average of North West Board and South East Board)
The voter turnout at the general election in 2015 was 66%.
So why pay for membership of the RPS and not bother voting? It may not be apathy, perhaps members think it doesn’t matter who they vote for, as individuals can’t influence decisions.
Or perhaps they don’t value the role the RPS plays at all and so the composition of the board is irrelevant. Is the 3 week voting period too long?
Is it the candidates? Do they fail to engage with the electorate? Does the process reveal enough information to help us choose between them?
I only have theories, not answers, but a recent Pharmaceutical Journal survey revealed some interesting information. If voter turnout is a reflection of how members feel about the RPS, then it needs to be addressed, as failure to vote may be the first step to leaving the organisation.
So, I have a few suggestions for the next elections, what are yours?
- Online voting only
- Shorten the voting period significantly. One or two days should be enough– if we can hold a general election on one day, then surely that’s achievable
- Hold all the official hustings/discussions before voting opens
- Have a webinar with all candidates (one for each country), so we can see and hear what they have to say
- Have separate Twitter chats for each country
- Allow pre-registration pharmacist BPSA members to vote
Ross Ferguson is an ex-contractor, he also has experience as a locum and an employee pharmacist. He is a pharmacy & healthcare writer, member of the RPS Faculty and has created a children’s medicines app, Kid-Dose
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