Margaret MacRury is the superintendent director of Rowlands Pharmacy.

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


Q Why did you become a pharmacist?


A Medicines have always interested me ever since I was a child so pharmacy seemed to be a logical choice.

I also ended up working in hospital pharmacy. But it was my Saturday job at university at a community pharmacy that made me see meeting the public and being able to advise them on medication was very satisfying.

When it came to applying for a pre-registration position, I applied for community pharmacy because that’s where I really wanted to work.


Q What is the key to your success?


A I know that sounds a bit clichéd but I could never have been able to achieve what I’ve done in my career without the support of my husband and family.

My husband encouraged me to keep going and supported me while I was juggling two young children and other challenges and my mum was always willing to be an emergency baby sitter.


Q What are your biggest achievements?


A I reckon when Rowlands Pharmacy worked with Boots, LloydsPharmacy and Well Pharmacy, delivering the community pharmacy future project [in 2011].

I was able to demonstrate the value of pharmacy and what the pharmacy team can deliver patients with long-term conditions and the benefits of this for the NHS. It was great to see companies that are normally classed as competitors willing to work together and share resources to make the project a success.

This has got to be the way forward for all community pharmacies if they want to become integrated into the health economy. They must all aim to work together.


Q What challenges have you faced along the way?


A The biggest challenge has been the growing burden of red tape and the number of forms and checks that now need to be completed in community pharmacy. It’s inevitable but it takes people away from patient care and contacts, which is so important.

I’ve been very fortunate in the fact that a lot of the companies I’ve worked for have been large organisations. These organisations have been very open about equal opportunities for pharmacists and there have always been women in senior positions there so I don’t think I’ve had any challenges being a woman.


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


A You’ve got to treat people with respect. If you treat people like children, they will act like children.

Whether you’re a line manager or a superintendent it’s important to treat people with respect and give them responsibilities but you must also give them the space and ability to make decisions.

By telling people what to do and giving them all the answers, they don’t learn to make judgements and informed decisions for themselves.


Q Do you have any professional regrets?


A Current legislation is based on the Medicines Act 1968 and the rebalancing medicines legislation and pharmacy regulation programme board is looking at that to see if we can bring it more up to date. My regret is that it hasn’t been moving forward quickly enough.

Community pharmacy hasn’t changed much since I started in 1981. Writing labels, getting typewriters and then a patient medical record (PMR) system; those are all the technical changes we’ve made. We got to embrace and utilise technology advances more.


Q What are the key qualities of a good leader?


A Respecting people and being able to paint an engaging and positive vision they can believe in.

You need to have the right vision for people and give them the opportunity to develop on the journey with you.


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


A Just be yourself and don’t try and be someone you’re not.


Q What makes you happy at work?


A When I read about a General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) inspection report and see great examples of care that the pharmacy team has done to support individuals, whether it’s making sure they get their medicines in adverse conditions or taking action to prevent a patient coming to harm.

These things are done everyday in pharmacy and you don’t always get to hear about them. So it’s great when you see all the good work that’s being done written in black and white on an inspection report.

And this is happening across the country. I think that will be one of the benefits of the potential publication of inspection reports. Hopefully people will be able to see that.


Q How would you describe the current state of pharmacy?


A I think community pharmacies are at a crossroads.

The chief pharmaceutical officers in England, Scotland and Wales said that pharmacy needs to change and become less focussed on supply and more focussed on services. However, how that’s been implemented across the three countries is quite different.

It’s challenging in England to embrace change given the funding cuts. The three countries are quite different but I think there’s a fantastic opportunity for us. It’s up to us now to make the changes happen.


Q What changes would you like to see?


A We need to recognise that if we want pharmacists to become more integrated in the local health community, we need to look at the supervision legislation as part of the rebalancing board.

I still advocate one pharmacist being responsible for one pharmacy. But if we want the pharmacist to take on additional roles, we do require flexibility.

We must also recognise that we often have two registered professionals. Both the pharmacist and pharmacy technician must be given the opportunity to work at the top of their licenses.


Q Are you confident about the future?


A The future of community pharmacy is in the hands of those who work in it.

I do all I can to make the profession fit for the future and I hope the rest of pharmacy does as well.