We speak to the Pharmacist/Pharmacy Team of the Year Award shortlisted pharmacists ahead of this year’s General Practice Awards, to be held on 8 December in London.

The third entry under the spotlight from this year’s shortlist of six is Katie Smolski, advanced clinical pharmacist at Park View Surgery in Preston and director of pharmacy for Greater Preston Network Group.

As lead pharmacist, Ms Smolski invites all the pharmacy professionals within the Greater Preston PCN to meet each month and discuss quality of framework (QoF) and investment and impact fund (IFF) for their respective surgeries. These meetings provide an opportunity for people to track their progress and to share success stories that can be replicated across the network. Ms Smolski also works as a mediator between partners and pharmacy professionals for each surgery to help ensure that targets are met.

Working across all sectors at Park View, Ms Smolski is the diabetes specialist at the surgery, interpreting all HbA1c values and allowing all clinicians to book diabetic patients into her clinic. Additionally, she manages group consultation for newly diagnosed pre-diabetics at the surgery to give all patient’s a better insight to their condition and how to best manage it, providing all resources available to help lower blood sugar levels.

Ms Smolski offers both telephone and face-to-face appointments based on patient preference, and helps sign prescription requests to ease GP workload. She also works closely with the ICB to manage the area’s workforce.

Having worked as an antimicrobial specialist, Ms Smolski is a strong advocate for antibiotic stewardship. She endeavours to reduce the prescribing of unnecessary antibiotics by advising and working closely with prescribing clinicians. This is notable in her own practice’s antibiotic prescribing; only 7.1% of all antibiotics prescribed are cephalosporins, quinolones or co-amoxiclav – lower than the ICB’s target value of 10%.

Ms Smolski runs a regular HRT clinic at Park View, providing all menopausal and perimenopausal women an opportunity to discuss their options and optimise their treatment.

She also leads the hypertension clinic, working closely with the nursing and pharmacy team at the surgery to create a flow chart so that patients could be seen by the most appropriate clinician to manage their blood pressure. The number of hypertensive patients identified and treated has since risen significantly and, due to the success, many surgeries in the network have also implemented these procedures.

Ms Smolski has advocated for more pharmacy professionals to be employed by the network to help with vaccination. Several jobs have opened up within the PCN as a result.

What they said

‘Katie is truly an inspirational pharmacist,’ commented one GP pharmacy technician.

They added: ‘Her passion for pharmacy inspires others working around her to become the best they can be. She has the unique ability to empower others to use their autonomy and explore possibilities within their roles and competencies. She always makes time for her team and is so supportive and encouraging of any ideas or suggestions put forward.’

A GP said that ‘patients have nothing but positive things to say about her’, adding, ‘I feel we are very lucky to have her as a member of our team’.

A patient backed this up by praising the ‘professionalism, care and kindness’ shown by Ms Smolski.

Last year, West Midlands-based pharmacist Helen Kilminster won the Pharmacist of the Year Award after demonstrating she is an advocate for fair and equitable access to healthcare.

See here for more information about this year’s General Practice Awards and the gala dinner and ceremony, which will be held at the Novotel London West on Friday 8 December.