How did you end up working as a clinical pharmacist in Doha, Qatar?
I got my first job at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust as a senior pharmacist in paediatrics after my pre-registration year at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust. From there, I moved to Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation Trust where I became the lead pharmacist for clinical trials.
When I saw an advertisement in The Pharmaceutical Journal for a project to set up a new women and children’s hospital in Qatar, I registered my interest. Over a year later, I was invited for an interview and then joined the pharmacy development team at Sidra Medical and Research Center in Doha in September 2014. The experiences I gained during my time at the NHS were invaluable and I have brought a wide range of skills with me to Doha, including working in a multidisciplinary team, managing patient flow and using medicines cost-effectively.
What progress has been made with the new pharmacy so far?
We currently have 14 pharmacists working at Sidra, most of whom have relocated from the UK, the United States or Canada. Recruiting staff, including pharmacy technicians and administrative and support staff, is a priority because we are committed to having a fully-staffed pharmacy department when the hospital opens (which is yet to be decided).
With specialists from different parts of the world, the experience of working in Qatar has been an interesting learning curve for all those involved
We are constantly reviewing Sidra’s drug formulary and stock lists for different clinical areas and departments. This project involves working with informaticists, who help with information processing, clinical nurse leads and consultants to ensure that practice is consistent. With specialists from different parts of the world, the experience of working in Qatar has been an interesting learning curve for all those involved.
Because Sidra is also a research centre, we are preparing four abstracts for presentation at upcoming international pharmacy conferences, including the Clinical Pharmacy Congress in London.
Currently, the main focus of our work is building an electronic prescribing system that is suitable for both adult and paediatric patients — similar projects have struggled in the UK.
What is your role within the project to build an electronic prescribing system?
Electronic prescribing is fairly new to me because only one of my previous employers had this functionality. The pharmacy department at Sidra is currently working on the evidence-based clinical review of order sets in areas pertinent to paediatrics and women’s health. Order sets are essentially protocols for managing a condition and they help to standardise patient care. They incorporate decision-making support for diagnosis, monitoring and nursing care as well as treatment plans to ensure the best care for our patients. Sidra aims to work entirely digitally and become virtually paper free, and building an electronic package of this scale will help achieve this goal.
Most of my previous experience lies in the clinical areas of women’s health and neonatal care, so I am reviewing these order sets as part of a team of highly experienced pharmacists. This involves collating and reviewing guidance from various parts of the world, focusing mainly on North America and the UK, to ensure the highest level of patient safety. As a team, we discuss and build treatment plans for the wide variety of conditions experienced in women’s health and neonatology, from gynaecology and early antenatal care to neonatal pneumothorax management.
National and local guidance, such as that of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in the UK, is different in Qatar and, as we collaborate on different ways of best practice and link them with the North American model of care, Sidra itself will be setting new standards in healthcare for Qatar. It is therefore an exciting time for me to join Sidra because I will be actively contributing to the development of new guidance and practices.
What’s the biggest challenge you have faced on the project?
Procurement of drugs has been an initial challenge because there is not a large selection of suppliers in Qatar compared with the UK. However, this will be overcome soon as Sidra grows and links are developed with pharmaceutical suppliers from around the world.