Community pharmacist Wendy Jones has been recognised by prime minister Theresa May with a Point of Light award for a career dedicated to providing medicines safety advice to breastfeeding women.
Jones, a Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) member, was presented with the award by her local MP, George Hollingbery, at an event in London on 15 May 2018.
Nearly two decades ago, Jones created the Drugs in Breastmilk service to support breastfeeding women who have concerns about taking medicines. The helpline, which operates through the charity Breastfeeding Network, now receives around 10,000 enquiries each year from mothers and healthcare professionals seeking information and advice. Jones developed the service following completion of a PhD exploring how community pharmacies can support breastfeeding mothers who need to take medicines during lactation. She is also the author of three books, including Why Mothers’ Medication
Matters and Breastfeeding and Medication.
“Providing evidence-based information to mothers and healthcare professionals on the safety of drugs that pass through breastmilk to babies has taken over my life since 1995,” said Jones. “Sadly, many mothers are advised by healthcare professionals to interrupt or stop breastfeeding based on the very limited information in the BNF and the summaries of product characteristics of the majority of drugs.”
Jones explained that specialist sources need to be consulted, as recommended in the PH11 guidelinesfrom the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
“I strive to provide this information in a manner which is accessible to parents and professionals, citing the evidence sources,” she said.
“If I could have a dream come true it would be that all healthcare professionals who come into contact with new mothers receive undergraduate training on breastfeeding support and more detailed knowledge about managing medication in lactating women.
“I hope that this award will help me to highlight the need for professionals and families to be given evidence based information on the safety of drugs in breastmilk to guide and inform their decisions.”
The Points of Light award scheme recognises “outstanding individual volunteers” who inspire others and effect change in their communities. Each weekday the prime minister identifies a new volunteer with a Point of Light award. In a personal letter, May told Jones that she had “created a successful and pioneering model which provides mothers with the information they need to make informed decisions about using medications and treatments while breastfeeding”.