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Introducing…. the Pharmacy Team

25 May 2023

The hospice’s Pharmacy Team works across our Erdington and Selly Park sites, and in the community, to ensure our patients are getting the right medication for their needs.

It consists of Jo Bartlett, Chief Pharmacist and Allied Healthcare Professional Lead, Tarun Nayyar and Humayra Akhtar, Specialist Pharmacists, Lisa Wall-Hayes, Medicines Management Lead, and Sarah Fitzpatrick and Carla McCann, Pharmacy Technicians.

As well as providing specialist advice to other medical professionals, Tarun and Jo can prescribe drugs themselves, working directly with patients to find the best ways to manage difficult symptoms like pain and nausea.

Tarun explained: “On the ward, our role involves looking at patients’ medication, reviewing what’s prescribed and proactively recommending on medication safety and appropriateness, looking at what’s working and suggesting changes. We don’t dispense medicines; we’re hands-on, interacting with patients and taking time to talk with them and their families to see how things are going, and making changes if needed.

“We can independently assess patients in the community and prescribe medicines ourselves, getting them better relief more quickly. We’re not aware of other prescribing pharmacists who go out to people’s homes like we do – it’s quite unique here and something we’re fortunate to be able to offer.”

Jo is the longest serving member of the team, having joined in 2009, and said one of the best things was seeing how they had become an integral part of the hospice’s work in that time.

She said: “When I started, the role was a bit of an unknown quantity and what’s great is how we’ve been supported and recognised, so we now feel a valued part of the team here. We can’t always fix what’s wrong but we can make a lot of difference by getting pain under control, and we have the luxury of time to explain medications and talk through them, which helps patients to engage.

“Being in homes is a very humbling experience – these are people having some of the worst times of their lives and it’s very humbling that they will let you into their living rooms when they are feeling vulnerable. We might be able to help with something as simple as being able to get out into the garden with the right pain management.”

Our pharmacy technicians work on the wards full-time, ensuring all the necessary drugs are available, and that we have an accurate record of what drugs patients are taking.

Carla said: “When a patient comes to us, they might have quite a complicated drug history, so we can straighten that out and find out what people are taking, and what is still needed.

“I came here from a hospital pharmacy and the big difference is the time we get to speak to patients and also to each other. I can have conversations with doctors and nurses about individual patients and how they are getting on, which there just isn’t time to do in hospital.”

In terms of what qualities were needed for the role, all agreed that the ability to be open minded and ready to listen was important.

Tarun said: “Being open-minded, and being able to see things from multiple points of view is so important. A lot of the situations we deal with aren’t black and white, and there is no right or wrong way of doing something.”

Jo added: “You have to be resilient because of what you go through – we do see all sorts of things; people from all walks of life, and you can’t force your goals and opinions on them. You need to be able to communicate well, really listen to what people need and not judge.”

Pictured, left to right – Carla, Tarun and Jo