I am not the sort of person who arrives early for anything and I don't like getting up early so it was almost inevitable that I was almost late for the start of the induction day but happily I had my pass photo taken and even managed to grab a cup of coffee and hug a few people before plonking myself down in the only available place to await death by powerpoint.
Things got off to a slow start and I thought I might scream if I heard the word organogram one more time but it was interesting to observe some of my fellow board members. Some were strangers to me, a couple I had worked with and known for some time and others I had met at All Party Pharmacy Group Meetings or at various receptions or dinners. When you are an MP most people are usually nice to you - when you are on equal terms with people they are more likely to reveal their true colours and I had to come to some decisions about who I wanted to vote for the next day.
What struck me most powerfully was that there are relatively few people trying to do an awful lot of work and most of it is not readily visible to the membership.
I jotted down a few notes on my iPad - mainly about things which gave me food for thought.
1. "Board members have a governance duty which can conflict with being an elected member"
I was a little concerned about this as having spent ten years representing people it came as a shock to be told that that was not why I was really there! I will have to see how this all pans out in practice because as far as I can see, I stood as a community pharmacist and I very much see my role as tackling the many concerns and issues faced by my colleagues. Hopefully there won't be a conflict in practice but as far as I am concerned I want to be a voice of the members to the board and use that position to advance the standing of pharmacy generally. Watch this space.
2. "We have moved from support to each individual member to thinking about how to support the profession at large". I can see why this decision was taken but if we veer too far from the situation of supporting individuals then this could have an adverse impact on membership.
3. We have 34 partner organisations - but I have yet to find out who they are
4. "Buildings and assets are not member owned they are corporately owned" - some huge implications here which will be dealt with in a separate post.
5. Consultations - one member of staff deals with all of these and there are a number of ways of dealing with them depending on the size and perceived importance of the consultation. What was clear was that my days reading policy documents have clearly not come to an end. There will eventually be a page for policy on the website (I hate words like eventually).
6. The LPFs. Some of these have been slow to get off the ground and this is hardly surprising since (purely my opinion here) they cover too large a geographical area and are serviced by relatively junior staff who are hard pushed to do all that is necessary. Ash Soni pointed out how important it was that LPFs start performing and that there was a need to think about changing boundaries so that they could align with the emerging LPNs.
7. Catherine Duggan was particularly impressive and is working hard on a lot of initiatives. I was interested to learn, when chatting to her, that her motivation was the lack of proactivity she had witnessed when she had been a Member of the old RPSGB.
8. "Brand Ambassadors" - we had a session on social media and were told that even when tweeting in a private capacity our comments could have an impact on the brand. I did rather get the impression that they were warning us off blogs and twitter but I really like twitter and I promised that I would write a blog. The trouble is that my style can border on the irreverent and I do usually see the funny side of things. I am human and I also think that blogs are more interesting if they contain some human detail rather than a cold relaying of fact. Hmmmmmm.
Maybe I have to set some ground rules for this blog. I assume it is ok to report what people said in meetings but when it comes to the more social aspects should that be reported? I know I can only report what we discussed in open business but what about side business and conversations with staff? I can see that I am going to have to tread my way carefully here but I have always made it my business to be open and shine a light on what goes on behind the scenes. I see no reason to change.