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 fifth entry under the spotlight from this year’s shortlist of seven is Symphony Medicines Management Team across Somerset and Devon.

Under the innovative leadership of Kate Jones, the Symphony Medicines Management Team has grown to serve a population of 79,000 patients across 10 GP practices. Operating out of three Medicines Management Hubs as well as within practices, the team of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and prescription clerks has reduced GP and practice workload by an estimated 500 GP hours per month.

Entry highlights

The team documents an average of 6,000 consultations per month across practices, including medicines reconciliation, medication reviews, hypertension dosage titration, medication queries from patients and colleagues, and high-risk drug monitoring. Historically this would have all been processed by GPs at the end of a busy day.

A large part of this efficiency has been down to the creation of a new medicines optimisation assistant (MOA) role, the impact of which is already evident after just two months. During their second month in post, they have completed almost 500 tasks which, at an average of 15 minutes per task, represents a saving of 125 hours’ work which would previously have been done by the pharmacy technicians and pharmacists.

By creating this innovative role, the pharmacy technician team has more capacity to carry out patient safety work as well as medicine reconciliation, freeing up the pharmacists to concentrate on medication reviews and more complex tasks.

The MOA team has taken on suitable medicines reconciliation tasks and patient safety work, such as ensuring patients taking mirabegron have annual blood pressure readings and lithium patients have the required monitoring. They are also taking over the stock checks and ordering of practice stock as well as the monthly PPA submission, which has been proven to free up the nursing team to focus on appointments.

MOAs and technicians are also at the end of a priority line for community pharmacy colleagues to contact the team directly without having to wait in the main phoneline queue, allowing queries to be resolved swiftly either through their own professional expertise or referral to a pharmacist.

The new MOA role has improved staff job satisfaction, allowing the team to ‘grow’ highly skilled staff, as well as recruitment, and it is hoped this role will become substantive after its 12-month trial.

What they said

Helen Belben, lead medicines management technician for Symphony Healthcare Services, said: 'We were surprised and hugely excited to read that we have been shortlisted for 'Pharmacy Team of the Year' at the GP Practice Awards 2022. Winning the award would be a huge accolade for the team as we reach our fifth anniversary. In 2017 Kate was the founding member, and we have since grown to a team of over 40 staff, including pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, apprentice pharmacy technicians, medicines optimisation assistants and prescription clerks. Each and every one, wholly deserving of this recognition of their hard work, dedication and commitment to the team and the patients.'

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.

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.