After graduating from the University of Nottingham with a BPharm degree, Deborah Evans started her career as a community pharmacist — managing a number of businesses within the independent sector and a large regional chain. She later joined the pharmaceutical industry, where she spent 12 years in senior sales management and marketing roles.
In recent years, Ms Evans has been using her background in community pharmacy and experience in the corporate sector to work with the NHS, pharmaceutical companies, national and local pharmacy bodies and community pharmacists to facilitate strategic planning of pharmacy services.
“I am passionate about supporting change within the profession, and inspiring and developing pharmacists and their teams to realise their true potential, particularly given the significant challenges within our health service,” remarks Ms Evans.
In addition to running her own company, a consultancy agency, Ms Evans recently spent almost two years as the interim director of pharmacy for the National Pharmacy Association and led the national healthy living pharmacy pathfinder work programme on behalf of the national pharmacy bodies and the Department of Health. She is also on the healthy living pharmacy task group of the Pharmacy and Public Health Forum.
“As managing director of my own company, I am fortunate to work on a range of different projects with many talented people, and at the core of everything I do is the patient and enabling pharmacy to contribute fully to patient care,” she says.
Despite being busy elsewhere, Ms Evans believes that it is important for her to stay up to date with pharmacy and to keep her feet firmly grounded in “the real world”.
“I work in an independent community pharmacy within a GP practice regularly. I am able to use my clinical skills and engage with patients about their treatments and lifestyle choices.”
Reflecting on her career so far, Ms Evans regards becoming a fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in May 2013 as a particular high point.
“I have a number of principles that underpin my work,” she explains. “We all have choices. So, if something does not feel right or is not going right then change it. We each have the potential for great things — aim high, work hard, listen and be flexible.
“After 12 years in industry and away from frontline pharmacy I enrolled on a return to pharmacy practice course; it was the best thing I did. It’s never too late to change.”
Ms Evans is married with four children, lives in Winchester and enjoys keeping fit by cycling, spin classes, gym, running and yoga. She has cycled on charity trips from London to Paris and from Paris to Geneva, and she has recently completed a triathlon.
When she is not working or exercising, Ms Evans also finds time to write for a number of professional journals and is often invited to speak at national events.
“Pharmacy is at an incredibly important point in its history right now,” remarks Ms Evans. “It really is ‘now or never’. Now is the time for leaders to engage with the profession and bring together our pharmacy workforce, working towards a common purpose. Healthy living pharmacy has shown what can be done when pharmacists and their teams are lined up behind a vision and are empowered.
“Pharmacists need to believe in the significant contribution they make to healthcare and to be bold. Medicines optimisation, self care, health and wellbeing and social care are all areas where we have much more to give.”
Ms Evans would like to see all sectors of pharmacy working more closely together.
And what about the future for Ms Evans? “Through my work with the DH and commissioners, I have learnt that pharmacy must demonstrate how much of a difference it makes. I have now enrolled on a master in public health degree, starting in the next academic year, to ensure I understand more of the principles behind research and population health.”