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 third entry under the spotlight from this year’s shortlist of seven is Copes Pharmacy in Streatham, Greater London.

Copes Pharmacy was nominated by Lambeth Council for being a ‘highly responsive and innovative partner’ during the fast-paced Covid-19 vaccination rollout in Lambeth, relieving the burden on general practice at a critical time.

Entry highlights

From the beginning of the vaccination programme, Copes Pharmacy was heavily involved in the uptake programme and supported several pop-up clinics. The team’s achievements are underlined by the numbers: Copes Pharmacy delivered 25% of all Covid-19 vaccines administered in Lambeth by community pharmacies between July 2021 and March 2022. Considering Lambeth had 13 assured pharmacies to deliver Covid-19 vaccinations, this is a huge accomplishment and underpins Copes Pharmacy’s dedication and commitment to ensuring the safety of residents.

One initiative to improve vaccine uptake during the pandemic was a health and wellbeing bus organised by the council and from which Copes Pharmacy was commissioned to deliver vaccinations. The bus travelled across the borough, seven days a week, focusing on areas of high deprivation as well as low vaccine uptake. This very quickly morphed into a holistic health and wellbeing offer, allowing the public to discuss other health and wellbeing issues with healthcare professionals, including blood pressure and cholesterol. Copes Pharmacy proprietor Ash Soni also facilitated the addition of Citizens Advice to the offer to deliver guidance on energy efficiency and household bills to help residents with the financial impacts of the pandemic.

Copes also supported the Council in setting up half term health and wellbeing events throughout primary schools, offering Covid-19 and flu vaccinations to families which helped to plug a gap in service provision which enabled not only school children eligible for the vaccine but also school staff to have their vaccinations within the school environment.

‘Ash and the team at Copes Pharmacy were stalwarts of the response to the pandemic in Lambeth,’ the council said in its nomination. ‘They were involved in discussions about our response from the outset and were always forthcoming with ideas for how we could address the impact or increase vaccination uptake and were willing to put boots on the ground to implement those ideas.’

What they said

‘For the team and myself it would be incredible to win. It would be recognition of all of the incredible work they’ve done over the last 18 months and show to them how much they’ve valued and how important they are to their community,’ says Ash Soni, proprietor of Copes Pharmacy.

‘The trust and support that we’ve had from the CCG and local authority in this has been extraordinary and shows how good working in partnership can make such a difference to what we’re able to do for the people that we serve.’

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.

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.

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.