Changes in Policy and Communications at FPM

Posted on: Friday 17 May 2024
Author: Dr Ben Cottam

After 14 years with FPM, our Head of Policy and Communications, Ben Cottam, sadly departs as a permanent member of staff. Ben is literally heading for pastures new, embarking on a beekeeping and honey producing business called Evenlode Honey. Ben will continue to work for FPM on a contractual basis, covering the Policy Coordinator, Flora Butler’s, maternity leave over summer and bringing his expertise to a few specific projects. We asked him to reflect on his time with FPM and his hopes for the future of the organisation.

Ben Cottam beekeeping
Ben in pastures new

Ben’s departure had provided opportunity for some changes in the Policy and Communications staff team. Will Strange has now become Head of Marketing and Communications, and will supervise policy work through Flora, who will be promoted to manager upon her return. Everyone who knows Will will surely be very glad to see him take up the reins of the department, bringing his extensive digital comms skills and experience to bear across the organisation.

Ben’s reflections

Can you share how you came to work for FPM?

Having finished my studies in chemistry I had taken a couple of internships at science policy think tanks, then landed a temporary role at the RCP London, working on a project on the social determinants of health. As that contract was coming to an end I became aware of the role of Policy and Communications Coordinator at FPM. I was interviewed by Kathryn Swanston, the then Chief Executive and Dr Keith Bragman, the chair of the Advocacy Committee (before it became PCG!) and a future President of FPM!

What have been your top three memories with FPM?

My top three memories would have to be:

  1. FPM annual symposia over the years having been great events, generally very successful and very satisfying to deliver. It has given me the opportunity to engage some of the leading lights in healthcare over the years and it is nice to meet all the FPM members in person, discuss the state of play, plan initiatives and catch up on gossip!
  2. Visiting Portcullis House at the centre of UK Government to witness FPM members give evidence to select committee inquiries.
  3. Winning highly commended and silver awards at the Memcom and association excellence ceremonies for the FPM symposium. Fantastic achievements and great parties to boot!

Policy and Communications Manager

What projects have you been particularly proud to be involved in?

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about many challenges for FPM. But, given the wealth of expertise within our membership and staff, we couldn’t sit still and from the outset worked very hard to help support the response. A lot of the activities fell to the policy and communications department and led by two successive presidents, the policy and communications group, the expert groups and countless other volunteers, FPM produced a stream of communications, thought leadership papers and policy proposals. We ran events and produced guidance for professionals and the public to train them and support their understanding of the disease. This effort culminated in the DEMENDE workshops for COVID therapeutics and the award of a substantial grant to produce a set e-learning modules to support understanding of viral respiratory disease amongst healthcare professionals.

How has FPM changed over the years?

The main change has been the growth, both in terms of numbers and professionalism, of the FPM staff over the years. When I joined there were just five staff and now we are at around 15. This 300% (!) increase in just 14 years is testament to the ambition and leadership of the organisation and a strong commitment to succeeding on the mission and aims of the organisation.

FPM has also slowly but surely been finding our ‘voice’. We are now recognised as a trusted body with deep expertise in drug development and we are regularly consulted by senior policy makers, royal medical colleges and third sector bodies, and members of the press and media.

Finally, what are your hopes for the future of FPM?

I think the organisation is in a great place now. We have weathered the hardships of the last few years, we’ve invested in staff, technology and infrastructure, and we have many, many hard-working and passionate volunteers who are committed to our success. I think FPM will push on to even greater heights over the next few years. We will be involved the UK COVID Inquiry, establish new training and educational programmes, engage with new audiences – both in the UK and globally – and continue to strive for fairness and equality in the world of healthcare. I wish FPM all the best in all its endeavours!

FPM Staff
FPM Staff on Ben’s (right) last day in the office

How to cite: Cottam, B. (2024), 'Changes in Policy and Communications at FPM', 15/05/2024. Available at: [ADD LINK HERE]

This blog article has been prepared by Dr Ben Cottam.

The article presents the views of the authors and not necessarily those of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine.