Tribute: Melvin Edgar Wood

I would like to pay tribute to my dear friend, colleague and mentor who sadly passed away on 4 March 2021 after a long illness.

Mr Wood has played a very important part in my life and career, as he has for my whole family. He was an innovative, passionate and compassionate community pharmacist who invested in his staff: we were all funded to achieve our City & Guilds qualification.

He was the first pharmacist to undertake a supervised methadone scheme just because he believed it was in the best interest of the person needing the drug. He did not get paid for this service, but developed it when anxious parents requested and supplied clean needles without charge to keep the patients free from infections. For him the patient came first; he firmly believed in quality outcomes.

He was never judgemental and accepted people for what they were, an important quality of being a pharmacist and a technician.

We learnt many techniques — e.g. making up Coal Tar and Lassar’s paste in a freezing pharmacy; what an experience! Mr Wood ensured that as pharmacy technicians we could undertake every aspect of pharmacy, working to standard operating procedures which were written with staff. We were assessed against for competence; he was well ahead of his time as a community pharmacist.

Mr Wood would encourage me to be part of his consultations. In those days more people went to the pharmacist for advice, so this was a great learning experience.

My biggest learning curve was to identify barriers I could not cross: for example, never to make up advice but always ensure it was evidence based and if I did not know the answer, then speak to someone who did. This has been my mantra all my life; we may wish to make ourselves look intelligent, but we must be aware in the NHS that there could be a person’s life at risk.

Everything I have learnt from Mr Wood I have used in my career as a pharmacist and, in 2002, the pupil became the teacher when I trained Mr Wood to take part in the ’emergency hormonal contraception scheme’, which was surreal.

Mr Wood’s legacy includes the career development of me and my sisters, all of whom he employed: one sister with a business degree; another who is a pharmacy technician now involved heavily in the COVID vaccination programme; another working as a lead pharmacy technician in GP practices and me, the North West Regional Chief Pharmacist. His legacy to community pharmacy is as an innovator, a political animal who made a difference. He inspired and challenged and if you spoke to his staff or customers today, they would remember him fondly with the phrase: “He was a very nice man”!

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, June 2021, Vol 306, No 7950;306(7950)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.64886

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