West Midlands-based pharmacist Helen Kilminster has won the prestigious Pharmacist of the Year Award after demonstrating she is an advocate for fair and equitable access to healthcare. 

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, according to her award entry.

She has an exceptional portfolio of roles and achievements, as reported in further detail by The Pharmacist in a piece on her award entry – including PCN and regional rollout 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.

Responding to receiving the award on the night, Ms Kilminster said it feels 'very overwhelming' and 'means so much' as it 'comes from my peers'.

She said the award reminds her not to give up, adding that to get to tonight has not been without struggle, without burnout and overcoming all those ‘nos’', and advised other pharmacists to 'keep doing the right thing, even when it feels hard'.

Jess Cornish, head of events marketing at Cogora, said: ‘We may say every year how truly valuable it is to have a night like tonight where we recognise those who have gone above and beyond, but I think in the current climate, these words have never been more appropriate… 

‘Using the experience of the covid vaccination programme, you have extended the way you engage with communities, adding opportunistic health checks to increase access to healthcare. All this innovation has been against a backdrop of the usual challenges; tackling staff shortages, managing rising patient demand, the secondary care workload dump…..   

‘But this is why I think it is as important as ever to celebrate your successes and the amazing resilience that you continue to show.’ 

The event, held at the Novotel London West, was attended by more than 700 guests from across primary healthcare. In all, 18 trophies were awarded, including for GP of the Year and PCN of the Year. Read the full list of winners from the awards and the shortlisted entries here.