We speak to the Pharmacist/Pharmacy Team of the Year Award shortlist ahead of this year’s General Practice Awards, run by our publisher Cogora, which will be held on 9 December at a glitzy ceremony at Novotel London West.

The seventh entry under the spotlight from this year’s shortlist of seven is Helen Kilminster, senior clinical pharmacist at Portway Family Practice in the West Midlands.

Helen Kilminster

Ms Kilminster’s day-to-day caseload includes acute and long-term presentations, alongside mentorship and training, and she recently completed a two-year tenure as PCN clinical director for the People’s Health Partnership, serving a community population of 58,000.

Alongside an exceptional portfolio of roles and achievements – including PCN and regional roll out of the Covid vaccination effort, coordination of system response to the NHSE&I Care Home ‘Call to Action’ and improved inclusion of Bangladeshi, Chinese and LGTBQ+ communities – she is an advocate for fair and equitable access to healthcare and is passionate about new solutions digital technology can offer.

Entry highlights

As PCN clinical director, Ms Kilminster was determined to change organisational culture to ensure patient services were inclusive. From her own lived experience as a first-generation Vietnamese refugee, her work reflects her sense of purpose to reach people often forgotten about and ensure their voices are heard.

She has forged multiple community network relationships ranging from LGBTQ+ patient groups to refugee charities. She has also worked with the Chinese Centre Community Birmingham to help and support new immigrants navigate the NHS and explain their healthcare rights.

Working as a Forum for Injection (FIT) UK board member, Mrs Kilminster volunteered her time to revise FIT guidance for healthcare professionals and patients living with diabetes using injectable diabetes therapies. She was also involved with FIT UK patient engagement events to ensure appropriate information and patient care were delivered and examples of best practice were shared. Through pilot projects, patients received a more comprehensive injection review and improved evidence-based care, and the FIT guidance is often cited in local prescribing guidelines used to support diabetes prescribing improvement incentives.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Ms Kilminster implemented various digital solutions to ensure services continued for patients with long term conditions, including through MyPillCheck which allows patient feedback and home monitoring for hypertension, contraception, and mental health.

Ms Kilminster also introduced the group consultation model to PCN by creating the necessary data to enable the appropriate cohort of patients to be recalled and clinical interventions to be monitored, supporting pharmacists and practice nurses to lead group consultations for diabetes and asthma, involving social prescribers and pharmacy technicians to facilitate sessions and deliver health and wellbeing assessments.

What they said

Ms Kilminster said: 'To be nominated for the GP Awards feels surreal and humbling. This nomination does not belong to me alone, but to all the people who have guided me, supported me and believed in me during my lifetime. Fundamental kindness and hope have encouraged me to pursue this journey to care for others.

'I know my career and my life could have been very different from what they are today. I feel the sincerest gratitude firstly to those who have taken the time and effort to nominate me and secondly to the panel for shortlisting me. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate my peers on their nominations.'

Meet the first team on the shortlist, South Kerrier PCN, here.

Meet the second team on the shortlist, Core Prescribing Solutions Clacton PCN Pharmacy Team.

Meet third team on the shortlist, Copes Pharmacy.

Meet the fourth team on the shortlist, Clinical Pharmacist Solutions.

Meet the fifth team on the shortlist, Symphony Medicines Management Team.

And meet the sixth team on the shortlist, TWNS PCN Pharmacy Team.

See here for more information about this year’s General Practice Awards and the gala dinner and ceremony, which will be at the Novotel London West on Friday 9 December.

Last year, Viral Doshi, lead pharmacist for Hillingdon Public Health, received the Pharmacist of the Year Award for improving access to services in his area through innovation, including tackling vaccine hesitance and implementing an evidence-based weight management scheme.