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 sixth entry under the spotlight from this year’s shortlist of seven is TWNS PCN pharmacy team in Gloucestershire.

As early adopters of clinical pharmacists in general practice, under Nicky O'Brien’s guidance, the TWNS PCN pharmacy team has gone from strength to strength and is now 15-strong with seven clinical pharmacists, seven pharmacy technicians and an apprentice pharmacy technician across the network. To have achieved the level of growth, cover and individual and team development the team has managed through the pandemic’s exceptional period of demand is particularly impressive.

Entry highlights

O’Brien and her team work to ensure that all the practices benefit from cover, sharing their expertise and best practice, building ‘networks of networks’ across the county, and supporting each other. They work closely with community pharmacists to bring primary care in TWNS closer together, with pharmacists and technicians working across both primary and community to improve knowledge of each other’s services, aid development and strengthen ties.

Successes have included increasing each practice’s use of the Community Pharmacy Consultation Services (CPCS), with one of the practices the highest in the county for utilisation. The PCN also has the highest two practice CPCS referrals in the county with three practices in the top five, and the network is the highest performing for CPCS in the county. TWNS PCN represented 7% of the county’s population but made 41% of all referrals.

The team has been involved in many innovative schemes, including presenting nationally on deprescribing for frailty and its positive impact on patients’ lives, and taking part in the national Do Not Wait to Anti-Coagulate project.

They are already making great progress on other pharmacy related IIF indicators, such as SMR-02B (89%), SMR-02C (84%), SMR-02D (93%), and RESP-01 (86%), to name a few. The team has also achieved the Prescribing Incentive Plan (PIP) year on year, and has been looking at patients overusing opioids, working with the local pharmacies and patients to tailor their use in a structured way to safely reduce their doses to reduce harm and dependence.

A colleague described the team as well-led, proactive, knowledgeable, motivated and driven, as well as willing to share with each other, their colleagues across the network, and with other networks what they’re doing and acknowledge others when they reciprocate, which has built them an excellent reputation across the county while also achieving incredible results.

What they said

Nicky O'Brien said: 'I am exceptionally proud of my entire team and what they have achieved for our patients across the PCN, and we feel honoured to have been shortlisted for this award. With the support of our clinical directors, managers and each other we continue to grow from strength to strength, building the team from just one clinical pharmacist, as part of the initial NHSE pilot, to the 15 strong team that we have now with 7 clinical pharmacists, 7 pharmacy technicians and an apprentice pharmacy technician across our network.  The majority of this has been achieved throughout an exceptional period of demand through Covid, and the vaccination programme, as well as personal challenges within the team.

'We have utilised our different backgrounds and experiences to create the ideal skill mix with some of the team splitting their roles between community pharmacy and secondary care, further strengthening our networks and communications. We are committed to the development of individuals and  have embraced the opportunities to provide in-house training of pharmacy technicians and pre-registration pharmacists, ensuring we are not depleting the workforce outside of our own practices by developing our own. If the team were to win the award, it would be testament to the hard work, resilience, and support of each other continually striving to provide the best possible care to our 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.

And meet the fifth team on the shortlist, Symphony Medicines Management 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.