“Life is never boring when Jasmeen is around,” said her nominator, and you can see why.
While working as deputy chief pharmacist at Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Islam was instrumental in developing an innovative medication review service that combines the skills of community pharmacy and specialist mental health.
This was trialled in residential care homes in the Wirral and revealed significant levels of polypharmacy, with 160 residents prescribed more than 1,200 medicines. As a result, pharmacists made 507 interventions, each of which was recorded using a digital platform designed by Islam on PharmOutcomes.
But setting up the trial was no picnic: “We weren’t thinking it would be so politically charged but it took a lot of persuasion and hard work,” says Islam. “People were sceptical about what could be achieved.”
That scepticism has been blown away since the publication of the results in The BMJ in August 2021. “We were invited to a board meeting of health chiefs across Cheshire and Merseyside and got full support for roll out across the region,” she says. “Then I had a message from the national pharmacy team saying we’re really interested in this [and] we’d like to see if you can scale it up.” Meetings on this are ongoing with NHS England.
Described by her colleagues as being “passionate about people” and with a strong ability “to link ideas into a practical application”, Islam has been behind some real change in the quality of care provided to patients.
In 2019, Islam successfully applied for NHS England’s Clinical Entrepreneur Programme, and this led to a range of projects, including working as an adviser to Gendius Ltd, a technology company, developing an app to help reduce complications from diabetes.
That same year, Islam developed a digital referral system — again using PharmOutcomes — to send hospital patients with mental illness to their chosen community pharmacy for a medicine-related follow up.
Eight out of ten participating pharmacies said the referral system helped them to support patients with a serious mental illness. Since then, the service has been shared with ten other mental health trusts.
During her career, she has developed electronic systems that systematically ensure all patients on high-risk medicines are reviewed, including working with IT experts to embed an electronic high-dose antipsychotic calculator within clinical systems, as this was a gap in practice.
She is also a clinical assessor for the UK Space Agency Applications in Health programme, a £4m scheme to find hi-tech solutions to the major health and care challenges facing the NHS in England.
But perhaps her fondest memories are early on in her career, when she took on a prescribing adviser job at NHS Wirral, which covered 26 practices. She was able to completely turn around a large overspend and make use of data to deliver a series of quality improvement initiatives.
A few years later, Islam was head of prescribing for NHS West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group: “I loved that time,” she said. “Building that team from 2 people to 20. Doing heat mapping, looking at data and outcomes.” While working there, she secured £2m to completely redesign the pathway of care for frail older people and prevent hospital admissions across two clinical commissioning groups.
Later, as deputy chief pharmacist in Cheshire and Wirral, she faced a challenge from the beginning. After six months on the job, she says, “my boss … had to take leave and my boss and the executive team chose me to step up”.
“It was really hard, and I worked long hours trying to motivate my team and keep an eye on a very big geography.”
The long hours have paid off as her employees describe working in “a motivated and enthusiastic team, which is growing and is optimistic about the future developments and impact they make to patient care”. “We are amazed by the energy and positivity that radiated from Jasmeen and are proud that she is our line manager.”
“Some impressive work here looking at innovations that improve the outcomes of patients with mental health problems.”
“A real sense of drive comes through and she is clearly very popular at her trust and influences nationally.”
“Significant impact in mental health, technology and COVID vaccinations.”
Meet the rest of The Pharmaceutical Journal’s Women to Watch 2021 here