Reality pill

November 19, 2004

I am amazed at the sudden love affair with pharmacy in so many universities ("Pharmacy staff chasm", November 12).

The Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Department of Health and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society are adamantit is not their responsibility, and none of them has done anything to conduct a proper debate. Yet large sums of public money are at stake, so someone must take responsibility.

Growth would be welcomed if it were planned and funded. But planning is impossible when individual universities are deciding the future in isolation, unaware of or disinterested in the consequences.

Many of the suitors come from universities in which the research base is weak. The cost of educating pharmacists will decrease and students will be short-changed in places with few experienced staff.

The political correctness that invades higher education does not allow us to speak of our concerns, even though we have spent a lifetime in the discipline. Our "self-interest" is interest in the quality of the provision in pharmacy that we have fought to enhance.

A. T. Florence
Dean, School of Pharmacy University of London

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