After beginning her career as a clinical pharmacist at Northwick Park Hospital, north west London, in 1987, Nina Barnett went on to become one of the UK’s first appointed consultant pharmacists in 2005.
Barnett was renowned as a pioneer in the patient-centred approach to consultations and medicines adherence using health coaching methods.
Clare Howard, clinical lead for medicines optimisation at the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), remembered Barnett as “a formidable champion for transfer of care, shared decision making and personalised care”.
In her tribute she said: “It was an honour and a privilege to be in Nina’s orbit and I, along with all those she inspired, will do our best to continue her legacy. Losing Nina all too soon, as we have, leaves a considerable hole in pharmacy leadership, as well as in the hearts of all who knew her.”
The NHS Specialist Pharmacy Service (SPS), where Barnett worked as a specialist pharmacy adviser for older people from 2002, posted on X (formerly Twitter) about the team’s “deep sadness at the death of our much-loved colleague”, adding that Barnett had “unparalleled abilities in hosting our webinars and was a familiar and reassuring voice to many who attended”.
A spokesperson for London North West University Healthcare (LNWH) NHS Trust, where Barnett worked from 2007 as a consultant pharmacist for older people, said the team was “devastated” by her death and recalled her as “a role model to so many people who inspired pharmacy practice across the trust and much wider”.
In addition to patient care, Barnett was passionate about offering support to healthcare professionals and acted as a peer mentor in the NHS ‘Looking After You Too’ coaching programme for frontline primary care staff.
Fazludeen Mustafa Kamaludeen, a senior practice clinical pharmacist who was mentored by Barnett, recalled her as a “towering figure in the pharmacy world both nationally and internationally”.
“She rose through the ranks amongst her peers as a mentor, coach, leader and, most of all, as a wonderful person. No words can fill her praise as she had risen to such a lofty position,” she said.
“Nina had a huge heart of compassion and warmth for her profession, her loving family, friends, colleagues, her patients and the wider NHS family.”
Barnett achieved a PhD by publication from Kingston University in 2016, recognising her writing and research on developing a person-centred approach to pharmacy practice.
Alongside her clinical work, Barnett was a visiting professor first at King’s College London and then at Kingston University, where she was an honorary professor.
In a tribute posted on X, Kingston University said its staff were “deeply saddened” to hear of her death and acknowledged her role in strengthening the university’s pharmacy curriculum design.
Barry Jubraj, associate director of medicines use and safety and visiting senior lecturer at University College London (UCL) school of pharmacy, described Barnett as “kind, insightful, a great listener, empathic and non-judgemental” and “a rock” during difficult times.
“Nina had the gift of being able to make individuals feel that they were valuable and had her absolute attention,” he said.
Barnett demonstrated her commitment to advancing pharmacy practice by serving as a committee member for Prescribing and Research in Medicines Management (PRIMM) UK and Ireland.
In a tribute on its website, PRIMM said that Barnett’s life and work had “left an indelible mark on the world of pharmacy and healthcare”.
“Her dedication to improving patient care, her pioneering spirit, and her warm and generous nature will be remembered and celebrated by those who knew her and by the countless lives she touched through her work,” it added.
In 2020, Barnett received an outstanding contribution award from the Primary Care Pharmacy Association (PCPA). The association wrote on X: “All at PCPA are heartbroken to learn of the passing of our much-loved friend and colleague. We have truly lost a pharmacy national treasure.”
Barnett helped to develop the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) mentoring programme and was recognised as an RPS Faculty Fellow in 2014.
In a joint tribute, Paul Bennett, chief executive of the RPS, and Helen Chang, head of professional development at the RPS, described Barnett as “a generous and inspirational pharmacist who will be much missed by all who knew her”.
They also recalled her recent work with the RPS to produce a series of eLearning content promoting the principles of patient safety and centred care.
“She was also hugely supportive of RPS work on inclusion and diversity, reflecting her own core values and beliefs about being inclusive in her approach and putting people first.
“Nina was a role model for many that had the pleasure of knowing her and leaves a legacy which RPS and others in the profession will continue to take forward.”