Chief and lead pharmacists for NHS genomic medicine service regions appointed

Exclusive: Senior pharmacists have been appointed across the NHS Genomic Medicine Service Alliances.

Chief pharmacists and lead clinical pharmacists have been appointed across the seven NHS Genomic Medicine Service Alliances (GMSAs) in England.

The chief pharmacists will be working part time in their positions at the NHS GMSAs, while the lead pharmacists, which are band 8B or 8C posts, will be mostly full-time posts.

The chief pharmacists are: Alison Ewing and Charlotte Skitterall, north west; James Allen, central and south; Matthew Kaye, south west; Damian Child (Joanne Wragg taking over in December 2021), north east and Yorkshire, Sarah Pacey, eastern; Raliat Onatade, north Thames and Vinodh Kumar, south east.

The lead pharmacists to be appointed are: Jessica Keen north west; Hayley Wickens, central and south; Rachel Palmer, south west; Emma Groves, north east and Yorkshire; Paul Selby, eastern; Dharmisha Chauhan, north Thames; and Nisha Shaunak and Lucy Galloway, south east.

Onatade, chief pharmacist for the north Thames GMSA, said the role of the chief pharmacists was to “provide strategic advice and leadership” on genomics projects as part of the GMSA executive team, as well as to pharmacy colleagues regionally and nationally, and to manage the lead pharmacist.   

“I would be the executive lead for any pharmacy/pharmacogenomic projects, ensuring operational delivery by the pharmacy team members,” she added.

The aim of the NHS GMSAs is to help embed genomics into routine care locally and across England by bringing together the vital multidisciplinary clinical leadership, and other operational and digital functions.

The GMSAs will review equity of access for patients to genomic tests — commissioned by the NHS and set out in the National Genomics Test Directory — regardless of where they live in England. They will also support the establishment of testing pathways for cancer and rare disease; help enable clinicians to request genomic tests; introduce new models of care that support early access to genomic testing; and understand whether there are areas of unmet need.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) is looking to approve consultant pharmacist posts for each of the lead pharmacists.

Stephen Doherty, advanced pharmacist programme lead at the RPS, said that one post had been approved so far, while the remaining six were under review and should be finalised “imminently”.

Gail Fleming, director for education and professional development at the RPS, added: “We approved a common core but then each local post needs to submit additional [information] to clarify how it will work in that area. Once approved, the people appointed into those posts need to be credentialed to be able to call themselves consultant pharmacists.”

The RPS is also in the process of recruiting a genomics lead.

Read more: Everything you need to know about the NHS genomic medicine service

  • This article was amended on 11 November 2021 to provide the full list of appointed chief and lead pharmacists
Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, November 2021, Vol 307, No 7955;307(7955)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.110259

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