Tribute: Joan Greenleaf OBE (1929–2021)

As former colleagues and long-standing friends, we would like to offer this tribute to Joan: an individual, much respected both inside and outside of the profession, who made significant contributions to service developments and standards as well as to the status of pharmacists, particularly in the managed sector.

After education in Brighton and registration in early 1954, Joan worked at London teaching hospitals (St. Bartholomew’s and the Royal Free) until she was made chief pharmacist at St James’ Hospital, Balham, where she worked for several years. On the implementation of the Noel Hall Report recommendations in 1973, she was one of 14 appointees in England who became regional pharmacists. Under the general NHS reorganisation of 1975, these posts were redesignated as regional pharmaceutical officers. She remained in post until her retirement from the NHS in 1990.  

Under her stewardship, hospital pharmacy in north east London developed considerably. Specialist services in drug information, quality control, production and radiopharmacy were established. Education and training, as well as pharmacy computing, were added later. Joan supported the development of the taught Master’s in Clinical Pharmacy offered by the Chelsea School of Pharmacy and initiated a part-time Master’s by Research for pharmacists employed in the North East Thames Regional Health Authority (NETRHA).

Joan was dedicated to the wider roles of pharmacy, ensuring that developments in the hospital service were in conjunction with community pharmacy. Her particular strengths were her interpersonal skills and the time she spent in personal and career development of colleagues at all levels. Many were fortunate to benefit from her support and sage advice, generously offered and freely given.

In a wider professional context, Joan was active in the Guild of Hospital Pharmacists, serving on its Council and, for some years, she was a member of the Board of Studies at the London School of Pharmacy. She was made a Fellow of the then Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and served on the Panel of Fellows for some time. She was a founder member and examiner of the College of Pharmacy Practice. Her valued contributions were recognised in these bodies with the award of the Charter silver medal of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the Evans gold medal by the Guild, the Schering award by the College and honorary Fellowship of the School of Pharmacy.

The award of an OBE in 1987 recognised her work across all elements of healthcare.

Outside pharmacy, Joan was widely travelled and well read. After her retirement, she completed a Master’s degree through the Open University and a PhD through the London City University.  She embraced new technology, particularly the internet, participating in formal courses offered by academic institutions and being a regular contributor in discussion groups. She always managed to combine this busy agenda with holidays, including several trips abroad each year, particularly to favoured locations in Spain and Slovenia. Her active lifestyle continued into her 91st year when a stroke led to her final months being spent in a nursing home.

Pharmacy has a lot to thank her for, and many pharmacists will take the sad news of her passing to reflect on the support and friendship she offered them.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, July 2021, Vol 307, No 7951;307(7951)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.93652

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