Today is world pharmacists day and to mark the day we are sharing what some of the pharmacists at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH) do to help keep patients safe, ensure everyone has access to the right medicines, and support colleagues throughout the trust. Our current pharmacy team is made up of 37 hard-working individuals who come together as #OneTeam. SASH pharmacists have had to work in new and innovative ways over the last 18 months to best support service users and colleagues.. As nursing staff adapted to caring for patients with COVID-19, pharmacists supported them by implementing a service to prepare intravenous antibiotics that arrived on the ward ready to use. They have also led the effective implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination service for SASH staff, ensuring that everyone had access to their vaccine as soon as possible and that no doses were wasted. The team successfully administered 9214 COVID-19 vaccines to health and social care workers during the primary vaccination programme.
Pharmacists are heavily involved with the majority of departments at the trust and visit every inpatient ward in the hospitals seven days a week. This allows them to review every patient to make sure the correct medicines are being appropriately distributed to them. A pharmacist is “on call” 24 hours a day for urgent advice on medicines to support colleagues.
All pharmacists have all completed a five year programme of academic and practice-based teaching, gaining a Master’s degree in Pharmacy at university. This is followed by a one year foundation training period. They must all be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) who are the independent regulator for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy premises in Great Britain.
Meet some of the team
Lucy Thomas – Lead pharmacist surgical division
“My role is to lead the pharmacy service to the surgical division. I visit the critical care unit daily, providing advice around the prescribing and monitoring of complex medicines regimes. I am also an independent prescriber and will prescribe for this group of patients where needed. My most challenging experience as a pharmacist to date has been working during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of critical care patients doubled and we had to rapidly find new ways of working and train additional members of our team to provide input to this highly specialist area. We found that we needed to frequently write and change guidelines as we learnt more about new therapies, ensuring patients had access to optimum treatment. It was a time however when all staff members came together as one team and really created a sense of community that I will never forget.”
Lucia van Bruggen – Pharmacy clinical support team manager
“Within the pharmacy team, I am responsible for the procurement, storage and distribution of medicines within the trust. In my role, I help to ensure that the right medicine is available at the right time and, in addition to this, that the medicines available present good value for money.
Although I have limited contact with individual patients, I am acutely aware of the impact of these operational services on patient care. Throughout the COVID pandemic, the increased number of patients admitted to intensive care units meant it was really important that we maintained supplies of medicines used in this area. We were particularly concerned about the medicines used to keep patients free of pain and asleep during these traumatising periods. The pharmacy distribution and procurement team worked with other hospitals, wholesalers and manufacturers, to maximise the supply of these essential medicines to the hospital. Combined with the efforts of clinical staff on the ward, who ensured that not a single drop was wasted, the pharmacy team helped to maintain high standards of care for the patients treated at SASH.”
Reda Hussain – Lead pharmacist medicines information
“I am the lead pharmacist for Medicines Information at East Surrey Hospital. I spend the majority of my day talking to patients who have recently been discharged and need advice on their medications. Patients often feel overwhelmed with information once they get home and call the medicines helpline. I am always on hand to listen, provide counselling and try to go that extra mile when resolving any issues. The other part of my time is spent helping various healthcare professionals within the hospital and in the community. These are often complex queries that require my specialist input. I research these enquiries in depth; making sure I offer evidence-based information and practical advice. During the first peak of the pandemic I was part of the team preparing antibiotics to support our nursing colleagues on the wards. I love helping people and making sure we are using medicines safely and effectively. I may not always be seen but I am on hand to help anyone should they need it.”