Michelle Dyoss is a specialist in public health and a healthy living pharmacy (HLP) lead who works closely with community pharmacies.  

After gaining an MSc in Public Health, she created her own consultancy company, Selph Consultancy.  

Her previous positions include senior technician at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital and community pharmacy development officer for Dudley primary care trust (PCT) and local pharmaceutical Committee (LPC).

She talks to Léa Legraien about her successes, challenges and love for the profession


Q What attracted you to work in public health?


A When I moved over to Dudley for a position at a PCT, I was working in a pharmacy team.

My career up to that date had been about medicines and supporting patients to take those medicines. When I moved to the Dudley Office of Public health, it was looking at prevention rather than treatment.

My whole thinking around medicines and patients completely changed. I just got excited about public health and what we can do to encourage people to have healthy lifestyles that prevent some illnesses in the first place.


Q What is the key to your success?


A My passion around public health because I’ve seen the difference it makes to pharmacy.

Pharmacy’s role has changed over the past few years, with more focus on prevention. We now see patients who actually go to the pharmacy for something over-the-counter (OTC) and have been supported to make a lifestyle change that might prevent them from getting diabetes or heart problems.

That’s the rewarding part of my job. A lot of my role is around training pharmacists and pharmacy support staff on those public health issues and encouraging them to provide services and advice around prevention.


Q What are your biggest achievements?


A Getting my master’s degree and starting my own consultancy company.

I was made redundant in April 2017 and started working on my business, which support local pharmaceutical committees (LPCs), individual pharmacists and pharmacy groups.


Q How do you juggle all your roles?


A I’m very busy! It’s quite difficult as I’m working about 60 hours a week. I just have to be very focussed and organised.


Q What challenges have you faced along the way?


A It’s a difficult time at the moment for pharmacy and public health. Five years ago, there was a lot of money in public health and opportunities to develop additional services whereas that isn’t really happening now.

We know it’s challenging for pharmacies in particular to develop roles that bring in revenue. It takes time and commitment, which is difficult for pharmacy at the moment, and that makes my job challenging – convincing pharmacies that [public health] is the way they should go.

[I also faced challenges as a woman]. There is one organisation I’ve worked for where a male colleague made things very difficult. But it gave me that push to think ‘actually, I can do it’ and that’s possibly the reason I’m doing so well now.


Q What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?


A I suppose getting people to see the bigger picture and having a long-term vision rather than just seeing what’s happening now.


Q What are the key qualities of a good leader?


A Showing enthusiasm and passion for what you do – it’s contagious.

I’m very much hands on. I don’t just lead from the top and expect people to get on with the work. Whatever I’m involved with, I’ll go and do the work as well rather than pass it on. I work very closely with pharmacy colleagues and pharmacy support staff. If they need support around a service in particular, I’ll go into the pharmacy and support them with that.

I’m also seen as approachable and I think that helps.


Q What advice would you give to women who want to be leaders?


A Be a leader in something you believe in because there’s no point working for something you don’t believe in. It’s about showing the way and passing on your passion and belief to other people.


Q What makes you happy at work?


A Seeing people achieving all they can achieve or what they believed they couldn’t achieve.

Also, giving people the confidence for them to go on and achieve better things and getting support staff realise they can have an impact, support individuals and increase their knowledge.

If someone is starting a new service, it can be quite difficult for them to go out and deliver it without extra support. But once they do and I see they’re making a difference, I find it really rewarding.


Q Why is it important for a pharmacy to be accredited as an HLP?


A HLP is the future. Pharmacy is more accessible than most other healthcare professionals: they’re on the high street and no appointment is needed.

Patients at the moment are unsure where they can go for support. They should be using pharmacy first and not just around OTC medicines and prescriptions but also advice and support before they get worse.

Flu vaccinations are a great example, with prevention being very high on the agenda for pharmacy.


Q How would you describe the current state of community pharmacy?


A Pharmacies aren’t given as much funding and they’re not making as much money as they were in the past. That’s led to staff being made redundant yet the workload is still there.

I know that pharmacies are very stretched. A lot of them now have a minimum staff of one pharmacist, one technician and one counter assistant so getting them to think about what else they have to do on top of what they’re already doing is quite difficult.

Before, pharmacy staff would oversubscribe to training events and we would have to get a bigger room. Now, LPCs are finding the same across a lot of areas: getting staff to be released to attend those training sessions is very difficult because there is no other staff that can step in and support this staff.

That’s why we have to look at other ways of learning, whether it’s through webinars or evening sessions.


Q What changes would you like to see?


A I’d like to see more staff in each pharmacy so can have more time to concentrate on services and that’s not going to happen without more money.

But I’m confident about the future. Community pharmacy is an untapped resource that can offer a lot.

I’m working with Public Health England (PHE) on level 2 of HLP, which is around commissioning services. Part of that will also be a suite of guidance documents for commissioners and pharmacists, which we’re looking to have ready before April 2019. That actually shows commissioners that there is more than pharmacists can offer.