RPS Annual Review 2021

A message from RPS President Claire Anderson and CEO Paul Bennett

2021 in numbers...

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Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

2021 - our 180th anniversary year!

The Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain was founded in April 1841 at a tavern in London by a group of leading chemists and druggists.

Less than a year later, the Society was granted a Royal Charter of Incorporation by Queen Victoria.

180 years later, and the RPS continues to support and represent pharmacists and the profession, with the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen.

Congratulations from HM The Queen

Read the signed letter of congratulation received from our patron, HM The Queen.

180 Letter from HM Queen

2021 across RPS

Events and Webinars


Following the continuing COVID-19 lockdowns, we went all-in on webinars in 2021, launching our new Webinars page. This made it easier for members to find webinars related to their needs, whether recordings of previous events or forthcoming live webinars.

And again, despite COVID, we saw 14,800 delegates attend 166 live events - meaning one in five members attended an RPS event in 2021, and 97% of attendees said they would recommend them to colleagues.

But our biggest draws, for both members and non-members, were our regular Community Pharmacy Consultation Service (CPCS) workshops, run with NHS England, which trained 6,000 pharmacists during 2021.

Put them together, and we ran a total of 596 events attended by over 19,000 people!


2021 saw the launch of our policy on sustainability, in which we committed to tackling the climate and ecological emergency. 

We formally recognised the scale and importance of the situation by publishing a climate declaration - a major step forward towards a sustainable future for pharmacy - which included:

  • Improving prescribing and medicines use
  • Tackling medicines waste
  • Preventing ill health
  • Improving infrastructure and ways of working.

Education and Professional Development

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2021 saw the finalising of our RPS Education Strategy for the next five years, but we also:

  • Secured four new e-Portfolio contracts (worth over half a million pounds!)
  • Launched our RPS post-registration foundation e-Portfolio pathway
  • Registered 745 people onto our consultant pharmacist e-Portfolio
  • Had over 900 responses to our consultant pharmacist learning needs analysis
  • Published 11 papers and abstracts
  • Won the Excellence in Clinical Community Pharmacy Practice award at Clinical Congress 2021 for our CPCS Course (together with RCGP and CPPE)
  • Won a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) contract to develop e-learning modules
  • Had 1,800 mentees and mentors on our Mentoring platform
  • Recruited ten outstanding mentors to our RPS Mentoring Advisory Group
  • Delivered five Careers in Pharmacy events
  • Welcomed over 300 delegates to RPS ORIEL workshop sessions.

Online Presence


Social Media

In 2021, we had 3.2 million views of our social media posts, and on average, eight people an hour responded to our posts every hour of every day! 13,000 people came to our site as a result of our ads on Facebook.

It's no surprise we also added 7,800 new followers. :-)

Our new Pharma Scene podcast launched, and was honoured to have Professor Dame Sally Davies as the first guest, quickly followed by Sir Richard Sykes, and many more great guests.

The RPS website, rpharms.com, had over four million views in 2021, with an average of 813 members logging into the site every single day. 

Our country pages - England, Scotland, and Wales - all got a major update, recognising their own distinct identities; we revamped both our Webinars and Events pages to better reflect the realities of lockdown; and the e-Library got a handy new list of open access journals available to all our members!

In the Media

We increased our coverage across all media by 44% on 2020, appearing 6,124 times online, in print and broadcast.

24 Recognition

From BBC News to SKY, Radio 4, national and regional outlets across Great Britain, in 2021 RPS members were seen, heard or read about regularly in the media, speaking with authority on the key issues of the day. Our media team was busy responding daily to the constantly changing health news agenda, raising the profile of pharmacy, speaking up on all channels about medicines and patient care.

  • President Claire Anderson featured in the Times on pharmacist independent prescribing
  • Chair of RPS in England Thorrun Govind appeared on the front page of the Express on prescription charges
  • Our Chief Scientist, Gino Martini, talked to The Sunday Times about the dangers of DNP
  • Elen Jones featured in a Daily Telegraph piece on medicines and sustainability
  • Robbie Turner was interviewed on ITV News about COVID-19 vaccines
  • And - of course - we received an official letter from HM The Queen congratulating us on our 180th anniversary!

We comment on the stories that matter to the profession and want to say a very big thank you to all our members who give up their time to advocate for the profession to audiences of millions.

Inclusion & Diversity


RPS Inclusion and Wellbeing Pledge – as part of our commitment to creating a culture of belonging, empowering and supporting individuals to thrive and be their authentic selves, we wanted to create the right environment where the profession celebrates and embraces the diversity within the profession to create a culture of belonging and support pharmacy teams’ health and wellbeing.
To support this, we developed the RPS Inclusion and Wellbeing Pledge in discussion with the profession, listening to pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and their wider teams about issues affecting them, the challenges they face, and what needs to change. Over a thousand individuals and 50 pharmacy organisations signed the pledge to demonstrate their commitment to embrace and celebrate diversity, making a more inclusive profession, and ensuring everyone’s wellbeing was supported.

Microaggressions – we committed to challenge inclusion and diversity barriers, committing to building equality and inclusion into the profession as it's the right thing to do.
Using multi-faceted campaigns, we challenged the profession to recognise the barriers faced by different groups with a particular focus on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, pregnant women and parents. These were highlighted as barriers to inclusion within pharmacy through an inclusion and diversity survey and workshop with our members.
With volunteers from our ABCD group, we developed educational microaggressions series covering Race Related Microaggression, Disability Related Microaggression, Gender Related Microaggressions, and LGBTQIA+ Related Microaggressions.

Antiracism Statement – 2020-2021 showed us race equality was an urgent priority for everyone, and that the impact of systemic biases and structural racism could not be underestimated in the workplace and wider society.
In March 2021 we developed an antiracism statement, building in the work done to highlight racial inequalities in pharmacy, and the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities. Our antiracism statement was an abiding commitment to fight against racism wherever it appears, and focused on action to produce long-lasting change. We are committed to recognising and acting on removing systemic biases which perpetuate inequitable treatment, both in our own organisation or wider profession.

Assessment & Credentialing

  • Credentialed seven pharmacists as consultant pharmacists
  • Received 26 Consultant Pharmacist Post approval applications (19 of which have been approved)
  • Delivered 11 Consultant Pharmacist Credentialing webinars (including Expert Mentoring).

Workforce Wellbeing

Part of our ongoing collaboration with Pharmacist Support, over 1,000 pharmacists responded to our third annual Workforce Wellbeing Survey between September and October. The results of showed again that pharmacists were at a high level of burnout, and environmental factors were impacting negatively on their mental health and wellbeing.

We had good engagement from members around our series of events with Pharmacist Support, covering topics such as stress management and time management, as well as some Facebook live events on reducing anxiety and building positive workplace relations. We also worked with SeeMe and Time to Change to address mental health stigmas in the workplace, as our survey showed many pharmacists were anxious about admitting to mental health issues, and did not seek early support.

We asked interested members to join our Workforce Wellbeing Actions Group (WWAG), which now has over 180 members. Throughout 2021, we discussed topics such as national support for workforce wellbeing, prevention of poor workforce wellbeing, as well as contributions to the content of our annual WWB survey. Group members also helped to influence and shape the content of our Inclusion and Wellbeing Pledge.

In 2022, our focus will be on prevention, with a particular focus on protected learning time and rest breaks.

The Pharmaceutical Journal


It was a big year for the PJ, which went wholly online, launched a new website, an upgraded mobile app, AND new email newsletters! Six million users read over 15 million pages on our website, pharmaceutical-journal.com, and we had 12,000 listens to our podcast, The PJ Pod.

PJ was also nominated for its journalism by the Professional Publishers Association, the Association of British Science Writers, and by the British Society of Magazine Editors.

Our student education offering got a boost, with the launch of our Online Pharmacy School Learning platform.

You may have seen Executive Editor Nigel Praities on the news, when he managed to get prime minister Johnson to promise to sort out COVID costs for community pharmacies in England.

Library, e-Library and Museum

Sadly, our lovely library remained closed to visitors because of COVID-19, but 2021 did see 29 new e-books added to our e-Library (we now have over 90!), three new Oxford University Press Journals made available online, and a handy new list of over a hundred open access journals created to assist our members with research.

The RPS Pharmacy Museum launched a new collection website, as well as four new exhibitions. They added 500 new objects online, began a very popular series of Museum Monday social media posts, recorded a not-entirely-factual Pharma Scene Podcast for Christmas, and somehow found time to audit 5,000 stored objects and moved them from our store in Vauxhall to a new store in Hayes.

Pharmaceutical Press

PharmPress logo

The RPS' Knowledge Business had a busy year in 2021. Over 12,200 pieces of content on MedicinesComplete were updated, and we launched two new resources with MedicinesComplete: Critical Illness and Clarity’s Diagnosis and Treatment Guidance (to be renamed Agilio: Diagnosis and Treatment Guidance in 2022), which between them had over 40,000 page views. Critical Illness offers essential medicines information to support complex decision-making and dynamic prescribing in critical care, while Clarity’s Diagnosis and Treatment Guidance provides practical clinical guidance for common conditions and symptoms across 375 clinical topics.

Another new product, Drug Monitoring Checker, launched in November, giving users evidence-based, actionable monitoring information to optimise drug treatment.

At the PPA awards (the Professional Publishers Association) Awards, the UK publishing industry’s most prestigious event, PharmPress won Business Intelligence Product of the Year for MedicinesComplete and the launch of Critical Illness.

Through 2021, MedicinesComplete had almost 24 million views by almost 1.2 million users from 178 countries and regions.

We were awarded a 12-year contract from NICE (in partnership with the BMJ and The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health), for NHS access to BNF content.

There were six new print editions released in 2021: BNF, BNFC, Dale and Appelbe’s Pharmacy and Medicines Law, Drugs in Use, and Introducing Palliative Care.

And RPS members gained access to our portfolio of research journals thanks to a new partnership with Oxford University Press.

Consultations and Policy

We responded to over 60 consultations from a number of different stakeholders  including NICE, Department of Health and Social Care, DVLA, GPhC and governments and organisations from all three countries. This ensured that our members views were heard across GB.  We responded on topics such as single medication records, women’s health, fee setting for pharmacy professionals, and original pack dispensing.

You can find out more about these and all our consultation responses on our consultation pages.

Submissions to inquiries and consultations has resulted in further engagement on these, and other topics, with stakeholder groups, members of parliament in all three countries and members.

We published policies and position statements for the whole of GB and individual countries. 

Across Great Britain, we published a policy on pharmacy’s role in reducing harm and preventing drug deaths , and worked with other stakeholders to lobby governments to pilot supervised injecting facilities. 

Our policy on COVID-19 vaccinations for pharmacists helped reverse the decision to make vaccines mandatory. 

Our women’s health policy was discussed in parliament, and we continue to work with members to lobby for change through our ABCD group. With workforce pressures continuing, our policy highlights short term change and prevention strategies.

We heard that pharmacists were excluded from long COVID treatment planning, and our policy highlights the role of pharmacy. 

We also updated our policies on assisted dying and e-cigarettes in response to new parliamentary activity or evidence being published. 

Find out more on our policy pages.

RPS in Wales

Elen Jones

Following the Senedd elections in May 2021 we introduced and highlighted key pharmacy issues to the new Health and Social Care Minister and members of the Health and Social Care Committee through one-to-one meetings, constituency visits and briefings with a focus on workforce pressures, electronic prescribing and independent prescribing.

We also reflected the views and experiences of our members by giving both oral and written evidence to Senedd committees on issues, including winter pressures, mental health, and sustainability.

In over 40 appearances in the Welsh media, we told the Welsh public all about your crucial work. We were on BBC Wales, S4C and the Western Mail, highlighting the amazing innovative practice and tireless dedication shown by pharmacy teams across Wales.

In collaboration with over 60 NHS Wales bodies, other professional bodies and third sector organisations, we worked to ensure that pharmacy’s expertise is recognised and understood across all areas of health and social care.

We've been helping to develop the profession’s vision for pharmacy in Wales through Pharmacy: Delivering A healthier Wales, supporting innovative practice and building a new website.

And, with your help, we've been highlighting innovative practice through virtual events and blogs.

RPS in Scotland


In 2021, we focused on engaging with members and pharmacy stakeholders, focus groups, blog posts, social media, podcasts, events, and introduced weekly video updates.

Although published in early 2022, Pharmacy 2030: our professional vision for the future of pharmacy in Scotland, was developed and written during 2021, because we focused on co-producing the vision with the profession through focus groups, meetings, surveys and consultations. One of our members said: “I have welcomed such an inclusive approach to the production of the document.” 

Our new drugs policy explained pharmacy’s role in reducing harm and preventing drug deaths, which is a key priority area for Scottish Government. We met the Minister for Drugs Policy and a number of MSPs to discuss our policy. 

We worked with the British Medical Association to produce a joint statement on the Pharmacotherapy Service, pointing out that pharmacists’ clinical skills must be maximised and the importance of good skill mix, IT and processes to support the service. It was welcomed by the Scottish Practice Pharmacy & Prescribing Association, who said: "We are grateful that you have raised the challenges our teams face in having the professional role of some pharmacists undermined and welcome the support to ensure that all pharmacy staff have attractive job roles.

We produced position statements on a number of important areas, including workforce pressures, about which we spoke to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, and the proposed national care service.

We had motions lodged in the Scottish Parliament, met with ministers, including Kevin Stewart and Angela Constance of the SNP, and had policy commitments in the election manifesto of every party.

RPS in England

The start of 2021 saw a key focus on the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out, with the RPS England team speaking to Government and the NHS, working alongside pharmacy stakeholders, on the role of pharmacy teams and how we can ensure you had the support you needed.

More widely, we’ve continued to engage with members and policymakers on NHS reforms such as the new Integrated Care Systems and what this means for pharmacists and patient care. We launched a new ICS Pharmacy Leads Forum, bringing together leaders and innovators to share best practice and help shape our work on how pharmacy teams can support medicines optimisation and improve patient outcomes across the system.

Working with NHS England and the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK, we developed a Joint National Plan for Inclusive Pharmacy Practice in England. This aims to make inclusive pharmacy professional practice a key part of everyday patient care, to support the prevention of ill-health and address health inequalities in the diverse communities we serve.

We co-hosted a roundtable with the Royal College of General Practitioners on the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service and published a report on how to maximise the potential of GP CPCS to manage growing demand on the health service.

In Parliament, we supported the work of the All-Party Pharmacy Group, which launched a call for evidence as part of an inquiry on the future of pharmacy. We engaged with select committees, including arranging interviews with pharmacists for the Health and Social Care Committee’s inquiry on workforce burnout.

We met with the new Minister for Patient Safety and Primary Care, Maria Caulfield, appointed last September, and will continue engaging with the Government and NHS on the big issues facing members and the role of pharmacists and pharmacy teams in the NHS recovery.

"Behind the Scenes"


  • 36 new employees in 2021
  • 945 applications received for new roles
  • 18 long service awards (including three for 20 years' service and one for 25 years' service).


  • Two floors rented out at our London HQ.