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FPM Annual Report and Accounts 2020

FPM Annual Report and Accounts

For the year ending 31 December 2020

Tim Higenbottam and Marcia Philbin

Foreword from the President and Chief Executive

2020 was dominated by COVID-19. Even before the initial UK national lockdown came into force in March 2020 we adapted our business operations to ensure that the FPM could deliver to its mission and purpose, support our members and keep our staff safe.

We improvised, innovated and acquired new ‘virtual’ skills. In the first few months of the lockdown we hosted popular webinars, an online Education Week, and virtual training sessions for our DPM candidates. These early experiences gave us the confidence to set up our “virtual” Annual Symposium, and what a programme! We had Sir John Bell, Sir Mene Pangalos and many other brilliant speakers!

Our exams also went online with remote invigilation bringing in a number of candidates from outside the UK, with a large cohort based in India.

FPM continued to deliver and enrol pharmaceutical physicians on to the Pharmaceutical Medicine  Specialty Training (PMST) programme . For example, we held our Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP) meetings online. And in January 2021, the GMC provisionally approved our new curriculum for the PMST programme.

The Designated Body encouraged the early adoption of video conferencing for appraisals pre-lockdown, and this has since become standard practice and is anticipated to continue through 2022.

Our policy and communications output has reached new levels, and our media appearances by FPM spokespersons have been almost a weekly occurrence on the BBC, on ITV and on Sky. We have also published blog articles and media statements responding to the emerging pandemic developments and other topics relating to our specialty. These have been bolstered by a new website and this has been viewed and read many thousands of times. The new website has also supported our engagement with the updates Good Pharmaceutical Medical Practice.

We’d like to thank all the staff, members and external stakeholders who have made this happen.

We would encourage members and non-members alike to read our full annual report on the website.

Thank you.

Board of Trustees’ Report

The trustees are pleased to present their annual report together with the audited financial statements for the financial year ended 31 December 2020. The financial statements comply with current statutory requirements, the Memorandum and Articles of Association and the Statement of Recommended Practice – Accounting and Reporting by Charities (SORP FRS 102).


Our purpose

To advance the science and practice of pharmaceutical medicine by working to develop and maintain competence, ethics and integrity and the highest professional standards in the specialty for the benefit of the public.


Public benefit

The charitable purposes of Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine (FPM) are set out in the Memorandum and Articles of Association and are:

  • to promote the science of pharmaceutical medicine.
  • to develop and maintain competence, ethical integrity and high professional standards in the practice of pharmaceutical medicine; and
  • to advance knowledge in pharmaceutical medicine.

Pharmaceutical medicine is the medical specialty concerned with the discovery, development, evaluation, licensing and monitoring of medicines and the medical aspects of their marketing.

FPM seeks through its activities to bring about an improvement in the health of the public and patients. Our activities seek to advance the science and practice of pharmaceutical medicine by contributing to the provision of effective medicines for public benefit. The trustees regularly review the aims, objectives and activities of the charity referring to the Charity Commission’s guidance on public benefit.


Our vision

A world where effective medicines meet the needs of patients.


Our mission

To advance the science and practice of pharmaceutical medicine for the benefit of the public.

We will do this through four strategic priorities:

  • Set and appraise standards for training in and practice of pharmaceutical medicine
  • Promote understanding of pharmaceutical medicine to create trust
  • Engage with clinical doctors to promote pharmaceutical medicine as a career option and support all FPM members in their training and practice
  • Ensure good governance and financial stability

How we deliver the strategic objectives will be guided by the following values that will guide staff and members’ behaviour:

Professional Being accountable for our work and actions
Innovative Seeking solutions proactively
Caring Treating everyone with dignity
Collaborative Working positively with others
Credible Being honest and ethical in our work
Learned Investing in developing knowledge and skills

Our Activities and Achievements in 2020

2020 was quite the year! Even before we consider global pandemics, FPM launched a website, on-boarded new staff to an expanded team, and welcomed more attendees than ever at its events.

The pandemic brought adversity in many forms, but FPM staff, volunteers and our members had the skills and experience – not to mention passion – to ensure that we flourished in these history-making times.

Several reactive projects – an ad hoc COVID-19 expert group, a webinar series looking at preparedness-planning, and many in-depth blog articles – were scoped and delivered in very short timeframes and to a high level of quality. Longstanding FPM fixtures were also given a ‘virtual’ re-configuration and this migration to online delivery enhanced many of our offerings in ways that we did not anticipate.

Education and Standards

Examinations, Specialty Training and Standards

FPM continues to train new examiners, educational supervisors as well as revalidation appraisers and interested members are welcome to contact us about this. The GMC did not hold its usual National Training Survey this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It surveyed trainees and trainers on the impact the pandemic had on their training or supervision of trainees instead. The GMC conducted a separate survey of pharmaceutical medicine trainees and trainers on the same topic between late September and early October. It was voluntary to complete the survey this year. 102 trainees and 103 Educational Supervisors were invited by the GMC to complete the survey. Thirty-three trainees and 23 Educational Supervisors completed the survey.

FPM has now published a revised and updated version of Good Pharmaceutical Medical Practice, which provides all doctors practising pharmaceutical medicine guidance and direction on expected standards, conduct and behaviour. In conjunction, the Ethics and Practice Committee are also currently reviewing the existing FPM Guiding Principles and the GPMP Support Network, as well as a guide for pharmaceutical physicians to ‘patient involvement in decision making’.

Other successes included:

  • All exams held online with remote invigilation which allowed candidates to sit the exam at home or work
  • Liaised with the other medical colleges and the GMC to set standards and protocols for the online delivery of exams
  • 48 candidates sat the Certificate in Pharmaceutical Medicine/Diploma Part 1 exam and 38 candidates sat Part 2 of the Diploma in Pharmaceutical Medicine exam
  • There were 13 international exam candidates, up from five in 2019
  • 18 candidates enrolled onto the PMST
  • 13 candidates completed the PMST programme
  • 15 pharmaceutical physicians were entered onto the GMC’s specialist register
  • The GMC’s Curriculum Oversight Group approved the purpose statement to the proposed curriculum in January 2020 with conditions, which were addressed in FPM’s curriculum submission to the GMC’s Curriculum Advisory Group.


Read comments from members of the FPM Curriculum and Assessment Working Group (CAWG) below.

Revalidation and appraisals

FPM is a Designated Body for providing annual appraisals and GMC revalidation. On 26 October 2020, 611 members had a prescribed connection to FPM as a designated body.

In March 2020 FPM cancelled all appraisals until further notice following NHS England guidance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In September 2020, NHS England recommended that all Designated Bodies reintroduce appraisals by 1 October 2020. NHSE recommended that flexibility should be utilised wherever possible for doctors whose lives were impacted either personally or professionally by the pandemic; thus ensuring a greater focus on health and wellbeing.

FPM organised online ‘refresher training’ for all appraisers to highlight and ensure that a greater emphasis on health and wellbeing would be reviewed and adopted as standard, as well as, for example, covering good practice for videoconferencing for appraisals.


The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated FPM’s use of digital platforms to broaden the range of events that it offers its members which included offering both free and paid-for webinars for educational purposes, training programmes and special events such as the Preparedness Planning on Public Health Emergency series and Black History Month which attracted many non-members as well as the general public. The success of the online events means that FPM will in future develop a model of both face to face and online activities with the aim of increasing accessibility to all its members as well as non-members.

A summary of the online events undertaken by FPM:
EducationTrainingConversationsSpecific topics
Education week – Digital Technology in Pharmaceutical Medicine Managing Medical Emergencies Biotech and start ups Preparedness and planning for Public Health Emergencies series
Preparing for the DPM Exam Code in a Day online Trust and transparency Black History Month – Black Heroes of Mathematics webinar
Boyds Training for DPM Leadership series Pharmaceutical Medicine Liability Black History Month – From Yale to COVID-19 webinar

Our June 2020 Education Week had many unique features; it was the first time that we had organised an Education Week instead of a day event, it was fully virtual, attendees were able to pay for and attend only sessions of their choice and individuals had the opportunity to attend from anywhere in the world. I think we should organise more such events in the future for the benefit of our members.

FPM Education Week 2020

Dr Asad Khan, FPM Education Week 2020 chairperson

FPM Annual Symposium

‘Into the roaring 20s – future trends in pharmaceutical medicine’ 

Our November Symposium has always been an important opportunity for our members to feel connected to their professional body and to each other. With the country in the grip of the pandemic, and with many members being forced to adapt in their roles, or deal with personal issues or redundancy, the importance of this was amplified for our 2020 edition.

Once it became apparent that the COVID-19 pandemic would mean we could not hold a face-to-face FPM Annual Symposium, we had to adapt quickly (and creatively!). We saw an opportunity to give members and other attendees a new and enhanced experience. The team decided to adapt the structure and expand to a two-day online event. This new two-day framework gave us the flexibility to insert extra sessions focused on support, networking, and wellbeing.

The Symposium also saw the introduction of the Stonier Prize, a competition for early career pharmaceutical physicians to win £500 and the opportunity to deliver a lecture at the Symposium. This opportunity was really well received by our members, and we have already received enquiries about submitting entries for the 2021 Stonier Prize.

As a team, we also put a lot of effort into ensuring an engaging and visually appealing delegate experience. This was important because we wanted to ensure that our Symposium was seen to provide value for money, despite being online. We commissioned a science illustrator to develop bespoke artwork and branding. A physical delegate pack was developed, with high quality merchandise that incorporated our commissioned artworks.

Feedback from delegates and speakers was almost universally positive and plans are under way to repeat and build on this success for our 2021 edition.

Symposium 2020 word cloud
Symposium 2020 word cloud based on survey of delegates

Communications and Advocacy

FPM continues to raise awareness of and advocate publicly for the science and practice of pharmaceutical medicine and the benefits that the specialty can bring to public health.

During 2020 our focus was on informing and guiding the public and policy makers on the science around the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and some of the ethics and practicalities of dealing with the resulting pandemic. We have also been learning from and supporting FPM members in their work, whether they are directly involved in developing therapeutics and vaccines for COVID-19, adapting their usual operations to cope with the pandemic, or seeking to get involved with the NHS vaccination programme.

One casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the unprecedented disruption to clinical trial programmes, potentially impacting on the development of new medicines and treatments for patients and the public.  One such disruption has been seen in the difficulties in enrolling patients onto trials, highlighting the need to identify practical measures that will provide future resilience. In collaboration with the ABPI and the MHRA, FPM carried out a survey to identify the innovations and adaptions that have been undertaken to maintain clinical trials programmes during the COVID-19 crisis. The findings will lead to FPM guidance on steps that can be taken to minimise disruption to clinical trials in the event of future pandemics and lessons learnt to improve clinical trial design as a whole in future.

At an operational level, the website underwent a total revamp and re-launched in March 2020. The new site’s impact was immediate with like-for-like pages typically receiving more than twice the number of visitors. The site was developed in collaboration with external agency Granite5 who continue to support us in making iterative improvements to its function and accessibility.

The new site has also helped FPM diversify its communications output to include blog articles which appeal to members and the public alike. These are internally reviewed pieces which are high on academic rigour. The jewel amongst these was an article authored by Penny Ward, COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic, which has had more than 35,000 views (and counting!).

FPM also continues to engage an expanding audience via social media, delivering thought leadership, snippets of our blog articles, and – of course – promotional posts of our events and other activities. We reached a milestone of 4,000 LinkedIn followers in June 2020 and we are hoping to reach 5,000 at some point in 2021.

Something that has given us great encouragement is that the majority of our most popular posts have been those which have celebrated achievements of our members and others working in our specialty. Our 2020 virtual awards ceremony gave us the opportunity to record video testimonials and acceptance speeches, and many of these were shared via our social channels.

Specific successes include:

  • Responding to dozens of consultations and media requests on COVID-19, receiving significant coverage
  • New website launch resulting in huge increase in traffic – up 167% in its first 10 months compared to the same period in the previous year.
  • The PCG were heavily involved in many of the new and redesigned events throughout the year, including the Annual Symposium.

Membership Support

FPM is a professional membership organisation with members who are practising pharmaceutical physicians or those with a professional interest in the specialty. On the 31 December 2020 we had a total of 1,489 members in all categories, and membership numbers have remained stable during the year. The overall proportion of members based outside of the United Kingdom is 20% based in over 34 countries, slightly down on last year (21% in 35 countries).  Those who have retired from professional practice can retain their membership of FPM and contribute to its work.

Over 2020, FPM has been building new connections with our members and continued to develop good relationships with already engaged members. The online format of our events and training allows easier access to members across the UK and internationally. Our COVID-19 resource centre and the Public Health Emergency webinar series provided key focal points for members to interact and find the information they needed in a turbulent time. We also added much needed networking and Q&A sessions to the AGM and Annual Symposium, which received positive feedback from our members.

FPM President’s Medal

In 2020, the FPM President’s medal was award to three outstanding individuals who met the criteria of transforming lives, inspiring others or driving change through their professionalism, commitment, creativity, and hard work. Following a review, three recipients were awarded the medal.

  • Dr Peter Dewland
  • Prof John Posner
  • Prof Peter Stonier

Alex Thompson reads his citation for the awarding of the FPM President's Medal to Peter Dewland

Peter Dewland

Juliet Roberts reads her citation for the awarding of the FPM President's Medal to John Posner

John Posner

Brian Gennery reads his citation for the awarding of the FPM President's Medal to Peter Stonier

Peter Stonier

How we adapted to the COVID-19 global pandemic

In our annual report for 2019 we highlighted some specific objectives that we were going to pursue in 2020. However, nobody could have foreseen the disruption that has been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first priority was to ensure the safety of FPM staff and visitors to the FPM building so a COVID-19 risk register was developed, and mitigation steps included new processes such as allowing the Designated Body to implement remote appraisals. However, once the government made the decision to implement lockdown for the UK population, the FPM office quickly operationalised activities so that the business continued seamlessly with the staff working remotely. For example, telephone extensions were linked to the staff’s newly acquired mobile telephones to ensure that FPM members and others could still contact the office with their queries. Furthermore, staff became proficient in using video conferencing technology which ensured that the schedule of committee meetings continued as part of FPM’s business continuity plan.

FPM collaborated with experts to produce a series of blogs that covered different aspects of the COVID-19
crisis, including:

  • A review of vaccine development by Dr Penny Ward et al.
  • The ethics of conducting clinical trials in search of treatments for COVID-19 by Dr Susan Tansey et al.
  • What you need to know about COVID-19 testing by Dr Bob Holland et al.

FPM established its virtual Journal Club in May 2020 and it has been a huge success with average attendance ranging between 10-20 members as well as sessions being led by hosts that reflect the diversity of FPM’s membership. Papers debated at Journal Club in 2020 were:

  • Oral Immunotherapy for Peanut Allergy (led by Dr Susan Tansey)
  • Factors associated with COVID-19 related hospital deaths (Dr Gilles O’Bryan-Tear)
  • Highly precise risk prediction model for new‐onset hypertension using artificial intelligence techniques
    (Dr Jeff Hsu)
  • Dexamethasone in Hospitalized Patients with Covid-19 (Dr Peter Adura)

The other key activity for 2020 was to review the digital infrastructure in FPM as part of the modernisation plan. The Dinwoodie Charitable Company has pledged a grant of £72,300 towards the Digital Modernisation project for works to be completed in 2021-2022. The award provides for:

  • The implementation of new online assessment tools
  • The adoption of a new learning management system
  • A contribution to an upgraded customer relationship management (CRM) that will improve the
    efficiency of FPM’s operational processes.

Future Plans

Like 2020, the year 2021 will be dominated by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, FPM is also preparing the way forward for its sustainable growth.  The work of the Governance Working Group was completed in 2020 with the update of the regulations which can now be viewed on the FPM website.  Work is now underway to develop a Scheme of Delegation that will provide clarity on the decision-making process to show the clear delineation of responsibilities by the Board of Trustees and those that are delegated to Committees and the Chief Executive.

The recruitment of the new Membership and Events Manager has been instrumental in the growth of FPM’s online products including professional development training, webinars and the reimagined Annual Symposium.  FPM has opened a new sustainable income stream with its digital offerings which will be developed further in 2021.

In early 2021 FPM recruited to the new post, Head of Education, which was established to develop new education, training and assessment programmes that will strengthen FPM’s role in setting the standards in pharmaceutical medicine.  Through the development of multi-delivery educational channels that complement the traditional face to face delivery, FPM will be able to offer a diverse range of educational programmes. This has already been demonstrated through the successful collaboration with Boyds’ DPM Training that has been migrated into FPM’s future portfolio of work.

The update of the curriculum for the specialty training programme will be launched in late 2021 and work is ongoing to revise the governance and processes relating to this.  FPM is also collaborating with the Royal College of Physicians (London) on a bid to develop an e-learning programme that will introduce general clinicians and healthcare workers in the NHS to research methods and medicine development.  There has been an increase in awareness as well as appreciation of the importance of medicine development because of the pandemic and FPM will be able to showcase the expertise of its members through this important collaboration if the bid is successful.

The Dinwoodie Charitable Company has pledged a grant of £72,300 towards the Digital Modernisation project for works to be completed in 2021-2022. The Board of Trustees agreed to release another £100,000 from the reserves towards the project for the replacement of the Customer Relationship Management system.  This will enable FPM to improve the efficiency in the delivery of its operational processes as well as support the engagement and experience of its members interaction with the organisation.

The modernisation of FPM will see it continue to grow and increase its influence through the promotion of pharmaceutical medicine as an important medical specialty which has a pivotal role to play in combatting future health pandemics.

A final reflection on 2020 and COVID-19

COVID-19 has dominated much of the discourse in 2020 and as part of FPM’s celebration of Black History Month, Dr John Ndikum took part in a fireside chat with the Chief Executive where he expressed his thoughts on working on the frontline in a NHS Trust at the height of the pandemic. A published poet, Dr Ndikum kindly wrote a poem about the pandemic for FPM. It is fitting that we end the Annual Report with this poem:

Dr John Ndikum


’Tis said victory is sealed by guile,
But this enemy did beguile
Those that it felt fit to assail
When e’en medicine was of no avail.

A global conquest did ensue
That struck not only a few.
And politicking reached fever pitch;
Power extending beyond its reach.

Yet amidst the storm, my learned friends
Did softly to others tend,
And as a balm, their camaraderie
Made for a healing reverie.

I witnessed love and harmony,
Aye – a true spiritual victory;
When what began as a global debacle
Became a blessed spectacle.

Of nurses, physicians and domestic staff:
Those of every clime and class
United – risking life – to patiently
Teach us the meaning of true humanity.

Dr John Ndikum

Thank you

Finally, once again FPM would like to extend thanks to all our members who contributed to our activities in 2020, whether as committee members, specialty advisers, educational supervisors, appraisers, examiners or by supporting raising awareness and advocacy events and policy projects. We truly value your participation and support.

Download our full annual report including accounts