Aileen Bryson on her 4 months at the helm of RPS Scotland

Aileen Bryson, practice and policy lead at Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Scotland, has just spent 4 months as interim director while RPS director for Scotland Alex Mackinnon acted as interim chief executive in London pending the appointment of Paul Bennett.

Pharmacy in Practice spoke to Aileen to find out what the role involved.

You’ve just spent 4 months as interim director for Scotland. What were your priorities in that time?
My priorities were to make sure the work of the Scottish Pharmacy Board continued as planned, including planning for our seminar on 30th September to 1 October and continuing our influencing programme with Members of the Scottish Parliament to highlight current pharmacy issues such as working towards having access to health records.

Did you have to make any big decisions?
Nothing momentous in that short while that would impact on the profession.  A lot of the day to day decisions involve discussing and advising the office team on how to progress their work-streams, signing off pieces of work and liaising with the other country directors on GB issues. We did change the format of the SPB meetings to increase member input and engagement which resulted in very lively meetings with some good action points such as instigating changes to the RPS election system.

Is there anything you would like to have done, but didn’t have time?
I would have liked to communicate our plans to support pharmacists for revalidation and for technician’s professional development to have moved faster.  This should all be  announced  after the assembly meeting in July.

Could we do with more staff in the Scottish office?
Everyone could always do with more staff! It has been wonderful to have backfill for my role as we are such a small team that one person down makes a huge difference to our capacity.

How does it feel to have Alex back?
Wonderful. The Scottish team work really well together. We are all passionate about supporting members and developing the profession. We share a common goal  wanting all pharmacists to understand the benefits of having a professional body working  for the profession and for every individual pharmacist  so it will be good to get us all back together again.

I will however miss working with the RPS directors across GB who are a fantastic group and it has been a real pleasure to contribute to their work –streams.

What are you going to be working on now?
Where to start?  I need to start working on some of the gaps in policy areas which we have identified so if members have any areas they think we should be addressing then it’s a good time to speak up.  One area I would like to progress is a campaign around improving the public’s information and perception of pharmacists’ role in healthcare and the value of face to face consultations in the community pharmacy.

From a policy perspective the Health and Sport Committee in the Scottish Parliament have been keeping us busy with calls for evidence on access to records and clinical governance, both areas where pharmacy has plenty to say and contribute. We have recently invited members into work with us meeting politicians and that has proved very successful.

It would be good to get more people understanding the value of the advocacy work we do.  We are about to launch a survey to explore members attitude to the proposals in some political circles to legalise the use of cannabis for medicinal use  and we are refreshing our care home report looking at what has been achieved since 2102 and what still needs to be called for .

What are your hopes and ambitions for the RPS in Scotland?
I want us to be better at getting our messaging across so that everyone understands that having our own professional body will be what we make it and everyone should get involved. Our new RPS local model should help with that, with key contacts in every health board area. Working towards having our own Royal College is an ambition we should all share to increase the overall status of the profession, aligning us with other health care professions

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