Why did you become a pharmacist?
I always knew that I wanted to do something in healthcare, utilising my love of science and my passion to try and help people. I looked at various careers from being a vet to a physiotherapist and then my chemistry teacher organised me to shadow the pharmacist at my local hospital. It just seemed to “click” and I started my path to becoming a pharmacist at that point.
Could you describe your career pathway so far?
My undergraduate degree was at Manchester University. Great memories …. a magic time to live in Manchester…. the Hacienda and the indie scene! To help pay the bills during my university holidays I worked for a pharmaceutical company in the quality assurance department and at various times of my career I have worked as a locum community pharmacist – both providing valuable experiences. I left Manchester and completed my pre-registration year at The Royal Surrey Hospital, in Guildford. After passing the pre-registration exam – yes it was the first year! – I moved to the sea and lived in Brighton, working for Sussex Healthcare. Whilst there I worked with some of the most inspiring pharmacists in the UK, who helped shape my vision of how a pharmacist should practice and my own personal ethics. I completed a certificate in clinical practice at The School of Pharmacy in London and a 2-year MSc in clinical pharmacy at Brighton University. Leaving Brighton in 1997 I headed for the Midlands. I had no intention of staying longer than a year to gain experience working in respiratory medicine ….I am still here today! Initially, I was the directorate lead pharmacist for Medicine and Respiratory, before developing and being successfully appointed as the Consultant Pharmacist for Respiratory Medicine, at University Hospitals of Leicester in 2001. Within my time in Leicester I have had the privilege to work in many fields of respiratory medicine; on respiratory wards, in clinics and in the community with people with severe asthma, CF, bronchiectasis, interstitial lung disease, as well as thoracic surgery and the varied role of visiting COPD patients in their own homes and working within GP practice respiratory clinics. I also work nationally with many respiratory organisations representing pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, not only by inputting into national guidelines and commissioning frameworks but also highlighting the role we have in managing and supporting respiratory patients.
You have an interest in respiratory. Why?
I talked about inspiring pharmacists whilst I worked in Brighton. One was a pharmacist who worked at Hove Hospital, a respiratory and TB hospital, long since closed down. It was here that the respiratory seed was sown. The pharmacist was a key member of the multidisciplinary team, providing expertise to them and always interacting and talking to patients. In those days there was only a handful of inhalers but still as vital to individualise and ensure administration was optimised. The difference he made to those respiratory patients was so evident.
There are so many different sub-specialities with respiratory, from allergy, CF to ILD and lung cancer. All are areas where a pharmacist can provide expert pharmaceutical expertise and input within the wider MDT team. I also believe that this wide scope of specialities provides the opportunity to interact with so many different patients; young to old, acute to chronic, all with different challenges, providing personal awards and in my case ultimately motivating me as a pharmacist.
As part of your impressive career, you have successfully completed a PhD. Can you briefly describe the topic and the findings?
I completed a Doctorate of Pharmacy at Derby University, graduating in 2012. My thesis focused on managing people with asthma, in particular, medication adherence and the role of community pharmacists supporting people with asthma. I developed the SIMPLE framework for managing respiratory disease (an acronym for Stop smoking, Inhaler technique, Monitoring, Pharmacotherapy, Lifestyle and Education) as well as the 7-steps-to-Success Inhaler technique reminder cards. These were implemented by community pharmacists in Leicestershire to support medicine use reviews (MURs) for people with asthma. The service was evaluated over a 6-month period and the results significantly supported the important role of pharmacists, demonstrating improvements in asthma control, medication adherence, as well as reducing healthcare utilisation. The project won both the RPS Pharmaceutical Care Awards and the Aqua Henderson Award.