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.

From this year's shortlist of seven, the first entry under the spotlight is South Kerrier PCN Pharmacy Team in Cornwall.

South Kerrier PCN Pharmacy Team was only assembled in September 2020, under somewhat difficult circumstances, as its two new PCN pharmacists were not yet qualified, the pre-registration exam having been delayed due to Covid.

Despite this, the team has measurably improved patient safety by focussing on high-risk drugs by developing and implementing automated safety searches, standard operating procedures for responding to them, and developing audit tools, one of which for Direct-Acting Oral Anticoagulant (DOACs prescribing has been made freely available to all practices in England via FutureNHS).

Entry highlights

During the initial roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, the team helped to deliver 11,685 Pfizer doses and more than 9,000 AstraZeneca doses with zero wastage, a nationally leading performance recognised by the health and social care secretary.

The team further improved patient safety during the pandemic by developing and implementing several sustainable initiatives, including bespoke drug safety searches in response to National Patient Safety Alerts, local significant events and shared care agreements. These batch reports run monthly and are processed by the team, leading to early detection of at-risk patients and intervention. Notable report sets include those for DMARDs, anticoagulants, antiplatelets, teratogens and mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists.

The team has also developed an audit tool to assess whether patients are prescribed the correct doses of drugs such as DOACs or whether renal function contraindicates use of a drug.

DOACs are among the most high-risk drugs prescribed in primary care and incorrect dosing is a nationally recognised problem. Audits across the PCN revealed up to 30% of patients were on incorrect dosage and monitoring was overdue. The tool has reduced the time taken for data collection and initial analysis from several hours to about five minutes. A follow-up audit in one practice saw improvement from 29% to 4.5% incorrect dosing, despite a 30% increase in prescribing.

This tool was developed with input from the CCG and secondary care colleagues, and then adapted for use with another clinical system by the team. It has since been shared with every practice in Cornwall and has been received very enthusiastically by GP and pharmacist colleagues throughout the county.

What they said

David Jenkins of South Kerrier PCN Pharmacy Team says: ‘To be shortlisted as a Pharmacy Team of the Year is a great honour for all of us, but particularly inspiring for our younger pharmacists at the outset of their careers. South Kerrier PCN, which includes the Isles of Scilly, contains the most southerly and westerly locations in England. Modern technology means that important projects can be developed and delivered literally anywhere in the country, not just in large cities.’

Click 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 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.