David Webb
David Webb to take over as chief pharmaceutical officer for England from February 2022. Photo: @davidwebb_1/Twitter

David Webb has been appointed as the new chief pharmaceutical officer (CPO) for England.

He will take over from Dr Keith Ridge who steps down next month after serving the role for sixteen year.

Webb is currently chief pharmacist and clinical director for pharmacy and medicines optimisation at Guy’s and Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust, London.

Sharing the news of his appointment on Twitter on Friday afternoon (January 7), he said he was “really delighted and honoured” to be named the CPO for NHS England and that he was as the appointed Chief Pharmaceutical officer for “looking forward to working with pharmacy leaders, colleagues & teams across all sectors from February.”

He also extended his gratitude to the outgoing CPO for his “outstanding contribution” who, in turn, congratulated Webb and said it was “an honour to be handing over to him”.

In the same message, Dr Ridge thanked “all the great people I’ve worked with over the last 16 years for your support, friendship, good humour, great ideas & challenge. I wish you all well for the future.”

Webb said he was proud to be appointed CPO and “to lead the next stage of the transformation of pharmacy practice working with with colleagues across the healthcare system to them, listen to them and enable them to continue to deliver to the highest standards, helping the NHS to recover services, improve the use of medicines for patients in the 21st century and deliver in important Long Term Plan commitments.”

Emphasising on importance of pharmacies, he said: “The last two years has been an extremely challenging time for all NHS colleagues, but it has also highlighted the absolutely vital and positive role that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians play as clinical professionals in the NHS team.”

Sector welcomes Webb

Many in the sector, including the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA), National Pharmacy Association (NPA) and Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) welcomed the announcement and congratulated Webb on his appointment.

RPS England chair Thorrun Govind said: “I warmly congratulate David on his appointment and look forward to working closely with him and his team on how we can help the pharmacy profession support excellent patient care and the NHS recovery in England.

“This transition comes at a crucial moment and with further changes in the next few years, it is vital that the RPS, NHS England and leaders across pharmacy continue working together on key issues such as the future of pharmacy education, staff wellbeing, and advancing pharmacy practice.”

Congratulating Webb, Dr Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMP), said on Twitter: “We wish you every success in your new venture and look forward to working with you and supporting you in what is a pivotal time in our profession.”

Mark Lyonette, NPA chief executive, said: “We look forward to working with David on a can-do agenda for community pharmacy. He has a huge agenda ahead, including Covid recovery and long term NHS ambitions such as tackling antimicrobial resistance and increasing access to primary care. His success will depend heavily on a productive partnership with NPA members, in relation to clinical services, preventative care and many other areas.

“I hope he will embed a pharmacy-conscious culture amongst colleagues throughout NHS England, building on the profile created by community pharmacy’s vital contribution to the NHS’s covid-19 response. We also want to see continued progress on integration, with a golden thread of pharmacy running through hospital, practices and community”.

Zoe Long, director of communications and public affairs at PSNC, said: “We are looking forward to working with David over the coming months and years.

“Community pharmacy is going through an extremely pressurised time, with a workforce crisis, growing financial and capacity constraints for contractors, and the ongoing impact of Covid-19. But with the right support in place, pharmacists working in community pharmacy also have so much more to offer to support their local communities, who are already becoming increasingly reliant on them.

“The CPhO’s role as an advocate for pharmacists working across all sectors has never been more critical, and it goes without saying that we stand ready to support David in this important role.”

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