What relevant experience or expertise from your professional background will you bring to the RPS pharmacy board?

The results of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) national pharmacy board elections are due to be announced at the end of May 2017. To get to know this year’s candidates and find out more about what they stand for, The Pharmaceutical Journal asked for responses to two questions.

In the second of the two questions, our candidates explain how their professional expertise and experience would contribute to the board.

(Of the 23 candidates standing for election, 22 provided responses.) 

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Our candidates explain how their professional expertise and experience would contribute to the board


Martin Astbury, community pharmacist

England needs a strong voice — the voice of someone who can influence what is happening and is not afraid to put their head above the parapet. In my time as an elected Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) official, I have clearly demonstrated this and carry the scars with pride.

My wife and I work as pharmacists. I will look after pharmacists’ interests, not least because pharmacy provides the income that puts food on my children’s plates. We must have board members who regularly interact at the coalface with patients. I’m still ‘Joe Bloggs’ pharmacist and proud of it, but I also carry with me the experience — particularly from my experience as president of the RPS — of how to navigate through the bureaucracy and arrive at the outcome the RPS membership want.

Ask those who have an agenda to have ‘pharmacies without pharmacists’ who has been the person most influential in stopping them. Ask the same question to those that would destroy the pharmacy (P) medicine category by allowing all P medicines to go on self-selection. I am not egotistical enough to claim I have stopped these things on my own, but I have been in rooms and sat on stitched up committees where I am in the small minority — however, armed with the knowledge that the view I am carrying is held by the vast majority of RPS members, we have often won the day tilting the decision towards what is right. Anyone elected will need to continue the fight.

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Nadia Bukhari, senior teaching fellow, University College London School of Pharmacy

Having worked in community, hospital and academia, I understand the challenges pharmacists face but also feel there is a great opportunity for us to develop new ways of working to enhance the profession. I have advocated the role of the pharmacist to the public to raise awareness of our roles. I have been working with schools to further promote the profession as a career choice. My role as an advisor for the Commonwealth Pharmacist Association has allowed promotion of our role on a global level.

I am currently undertaking my PhD in the area of pharmacy and leadership, which will provide invaluable insight while working with the English Pharmacy Board (EPB). As a senior teaching fellow at University College London, I have sound experience of pharmacy education. I am actively involved with the development of preregistration pharmacists, and have authored books to support their education journey.

I founded and developed the RPS preregistration courses and attribute a large part of their success to the fact that I draw on the expertise of pharmacists from all areas of practice to teach on the programme. I strongly believe that ongoing development is an integral component of being a professional, and continue to mentor and develop pharmacists after qualification. Being previously seconded as a Foundation development lead for the RPS has provided me with first-hand experience of the Foundation programme.

My knowledge of pharmacist education and of the workforce pressures we currently face allows me to effectively understand the challenges and opportunities for our profession. I shall always strive to ensure that your voice is represented.

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Mark Collins, locum pharmacist, director of CFM Health Ltd

I am a proud third-generation pharmacist, with a fourth generation studying in her third year. I want to build on my experience to ensure the future.

As a long-standing independent pharmacy contractor (27 years), I have always chosen to give back to my profession and support my fellow colleagues, which is why I became involved with the local branch and local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) and became the LPC secretary (held for 17 years). I represented and supported fellow contractors, employed pharmacists and locums. Critical parts of my work were at patient interfaces with hospital/GP/pharmacy; it is here that much more can be done for patient safety and reducing pharmacy stress.

The work with East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust with its ‘Refer-to-pharmacy’ scheme is now capitalising on this; I was involved from the very start. These are undervalued networks and there are opportunities to be realised for the benefit of all pharmacists.

I was elected as the north west regional representative for the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), held the post for 14 years, and worked on all the sub-committees during this time. I was elected chair of the LPC support sub-committee (for six years) and appointments panel (for two years), where I responsible for appointing the prestigious position of chair. Throughout all these varied positions, I continued to work with patients enabling me to bring that front-line experience to influence those working committees. Having recently become a locum I am looking to use my varied experience, if elected, to continue giving back to my proud profession.

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Richard John Daniszewski, pharmacist manager, SK Lo Pharmacy, Barnsley

I have over 13 years’ experience as a community pharmacist based in predominantly health centre locations, but also on the high street, working closely with GPs, nurses, and other healthcare professionals delivering patient-centred pharmaceutical care to the communities that I have served. I am an advocate and practitioner of delivering quality community pharmacy NHS essential, advanced and enhanced services.

I currently lead two RPS local practice forums (LPF), Doncaster and South Humber LPF (since September 2010) and Sheffield, Rotherham and Barnsley LPF (since February 2012) and have organised over 150 face-to-face member events in this time, working closely with other key local pharmacy stakeholders and other healthcare professionals.

I was an EPB member from its inception in 2007 until 2010, EPB vice-chair from June 2008 until February 2010. I have been involved in policymaking, which included working on the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) submission to help prevent reclassification of pseudoephedrine from P to prescription-only medicine (POM).

I was also EPB representative on Royal College of Physicians ‘Working party: working together’ and served as chair of the EPB policy and communications forum and oversaw EPB internal and external communications strategy, working with members and lobbying politicians. I was a member of the RPSGB transitional working group, which was tasked with the transition of the RPSGB to the RPS. Also, I was EPB branches and regions lead, including overseeing the transition of the RPSGB English branches and regions into LPFs, working in collaboration with Scottish and Welsh counterparts, as well as LPF advocate for LPFs being “local” and having flexibility in their structure to suit the requirements of members locally. 

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Jane Devenish, NHS standards and services pharmacist, Well Pharmacy

My background and expertise will help me to bring a new viewpoint to the board, shaping our own future and clearly demonstrating our place in the centre of healthcare.

We need strategic leadership from a strong professional body to move forward with the NHS and shape our own future for pharmacy. I enjoy working collaboratively alongside pharmacy contractors and colleagues from the NHS to develop healthcare and the profession. This has given me a broad understanding and network, and includes working on the ‘Community pharmacy future’ project to design, develop and implement community-based patient-centred services to help patients with long-term conditions. I have also worked on the Salford Lung Study, a ground-breaking ‘real-world’ safety and effectiveness randomised controlled trial.

But one of our biggest barriers as a profession is in explaining and demonstrating our value. Pharmacy is complex, and my experience is that many health professionals and commissioners don’t have a clear vision of what we do, so sometimes struggle to see a reason to include us. I have worked in pharmacy for 27 years, and held positions as a pharmacy technician and pharmacist in both hospital and community. This helps me to appreciate the strengths and challenges of our profession. I have worked with Pharmacy Voice, the Company Chemists’ Association and Well to communicate that message in a simple way that showcases the value that we bring to patients.

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Ian Fraser, locum pharmacist

I have been a qualified pharmacist for 25 years and have owned five very different pharmacies. I have also locumed at hundreds of pharmacies ranging from independents to large multiples. I have also trained two preregistration students. As a result, I am acutely aware of the conflicting financial interest of locums and retail pharmacy owners. I am therefore familiar with the issues that many locums would possibly raise such as whether there should be set levels of dispensing above which two pharmacists should be mandatory to ensure public safety.

I am also familiar with the problems facing owners, such as implementation of additional requirements such as ‘Level 2 safeguarding’, while shouldering financial cuts. I strongly believe that I would be able to educate decision makers to begin to understand that continued further regulatory burden without additional financial remuneration would actually increase risk both to patient safety and the commercial viability of independent community pharmacy. 

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David Gallier-Harris, pharmacist, Asda Stores Ltd

My background is based in community pharmacy combined with local leadership and national board level experience. I joined the register in autumn 1999. Since then, I have worked in a wide variety of community pharmacy settings with many years working as a self-employed locum, a six-year stint working for an independent contractor and the past six years employed in a large multiple pharmacy environment. This does I feel give me experience across the full breadth of community pharmacy.

Over the past three years, I have been a member of the ‘Rebalancing medicines legislation and pharmacy regulation programme’ board. As part of this, I’ve led discussions at local level with groups of my peers to inform them on proposals, gather opinion, formulate views and feedback a balanced view from grassroots pharmacists direct to national board level.

My areas of expertise are foremost looking after my patients; the practicalities of running a community pharmacy; coaching and engaging colleagues and peers; local leadership; and working to achieve a consensus across difficult topics. If elected to the EPB, I will work in a comparable way. I will represent the views of grassroots pharmacists direct to board level. The challenges and threats to the survival of the pharmacy network and inherently the services we provide to patients must be robustly faced into.

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Sandra Gidley, locum pharmacist

I believe I have something of a unique skillset. I have a solid background in community pharmacy but it is, perhaps, my time spent as a MP and as a local councillor that helps me bring a different perspective to the board.

In my time in parliament, I was a party health spokesperson and also a member of the health select committee. This means that I have a thorough understanding of the drivers and systems in the health service. More importantly, it also means that I have learnt how to work across the political spectrum, and across other parts of the health service, to make things happen. I also worked a lot with patient groups and see them as being key advocates for pharmacy and I have a great deal of media experience, from local radio, through to the Today programme and Question Time.

Quite simply, I have the wider experience and gravitas that equips me to be an effective player on the national stage.

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Hala Jawad, practice pharmacist/community pharmacist; founder of iPharmacist UK

Working as a GP pharmacist and actively being involved with the RPS around this topic will definitely help with my first objective.

I’ve also tried my hand at some media-related performances and seen great benefit in its approach. I believe involvement and positive representation on social media is vital for the future of the profession and I would like to encourage more use of media by supporting the new generation of pharmacists with these tools.

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Brendon Jiang, senior clinical pharmacist, Taunton Symphony Test and Learn; GP pharmacist, CLICK Federation; community pharmacist, Boots UK

I practise full time as both a GP pharmacist and a community pharmacist. I strive to deliver greater collaboration between community pharmacy, general practice, hospital and the clinical commissioning group across Somerset and would relish the opportunity to do so nationally. I am grounded and do not sit in an ivory tower focusing on theory. I understand the pressures faced by colleagues on a daily basis.

My international background provides me with first-hand knowledge of different healthcare systems and I keep abreast of international developments in pharmacy practice. Most developed nations are experiencing the same demographic pressures as the UK and there is much we can learn from their myriad solutions.

In my time as superintendent pharmacist, I worked closely with the board of directors and upheld strict professional standards in policy development and implementation. I have a deep understanding of both the community pharmacy contractual framework and the general medical services contract. As a preregistration tutor and mentor, I have demonstrated my commitment to the future of our profession. I bring passion, resilience and integrity.

My eyes are open to the possibilities that exist for the profession and I see ahead an exciting, brave new world. I want to contribute as an EPB member in driving the profession forward to a better future.

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Ben Merriman, pharmacist, Gorgemead Ltd T/A Cohens Chemist

As a member of both Cumbria’s LPC and area prescribing committee, I have experience of dealing with different commissioners of healthcare services. As a practising pharmacist working five days a week, I see on a daily basis the very best community pharmacy has to offer along with the challenges faced. Coupling that with endless enthusiasm for the profession that I love, I will look to contribute towards the commissioning of new services. As a LPC member, I have been actively involved in the commissioning of novel services, such as an HIV screening service and a gluten-free product supply service.

Should I be elected, I would want to ensure that all pharmacies in England were able to offer services such as these. Pharmacies need to be allowed to do what they do best: improve the health outcomes of the patients in our communities that we serve daily. Should the current crisis facing community pharmacy, and the NHS as a whole, be overcome, novel and innovative ideas need to be adopted and developed.

As a naturally curious person with a never ending thirst for knowledge, I am not embarrassed to ask questions and provide alternative ways of working. I believe that these are invaluable qualities a representative body needs to ensure it is able to look after its members’ interests both within the current climate and in the future.

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Mahendra Gulabbhai Patel, principal enterprise fellow and senior academic pharmacist, University of Huddersfield; Pharmacy research champion, Yorkshire & Humber Local Clinical Research Network, National Institute for Health Research

Having served a full term on the EPB, I am now more determined to support and inspire the next generation of pharmacists and to raise the profile of pharmacy worldwide. As expert adviser to different health organisations at national level, I am able to bring broad experiences to support the EPB wherever possible — the RPS attaining National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) accreditation of international esteem being one example.

As the National Institute for Health Research’s community pharmacy research champion, I have developed a rich infrastructure of research-active pharmacists, partnering closely with the RPS research team to promote research and build capacity to engage in research.

As adviser to the British Heart Foundation’s House of Care national steering committee managing long-term conditions through multidisciplinary care, I continue pushing pharmacy forward.

To gather valuable support for creating new roles nationally, I have brought together the RPS and Royal College of General Practitioners professional bodies through the joint Polypharmacy Conference 2016, showcasing GP pharmacists, and have convinced the EPB to champion a national diabetes campaign to work with the Department of Health.

It is vital we galvanise effective local engagement of members and strengthen the voice of LPFs. Therefore, as part of the RPS steering group, we are now gathering national intelligence to develop a fresh local engagement model.

In my commitment to ensure the RPS is at the forefront of the international agenda, I am currently forging formal relations with the pharmacy organisations of Lebanon and soon Morocco.

In recognition of my work and experiences I have been awarded the RPS Charter Award 2016 and NICE and RPS fellowships.

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Stephen Riley, senior primary care manager NHS England; self-employed community pharmacy and medicines optimisation service provider; director, Medicines Optimisation Ltd

The majority of my career has been spent working across the community pharmacy and primary care sectors. I have managed pharmacies, delivered services to GP practices and led medicines optimisation services at clinical commissioning group level. I still regularly work as a locum in community pharmacy. I currently work for NHS England in Greater Manchester, managing community pharmacy contracts, ensuring delivery of quality patient services and developing new pharmacy services. I am also the local lead for the clinical pharmacist in GP practices pilot. In working as part of the devolved Greater Manchester health economy, I have developed a clear understanding of emerging health and social care partnerships and new commissioning models.

I have developed NICE guidance and contributed to the RPS medicines optimisation guiding principles. I work with the RPS as a lead of my LPF and advocate. I have experience of working at national board level with a membership organisation. I am the elected communications officer for the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) trade union. I work on the national executive to develop policy and work-streams supporting the membership and individual pharmacist agenda. I am a trustee of the Pharmacist Support charity; working to develop the strategic direction of the charity. I also provide media services.

My collective experience gives me a clear understanding of the issues impacting upon our profession, insight as to the opportunities for development and how to develop national policy and strategies. I am able to engage with key stakeholders, such as health professionals, commissioners and patients.

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Sally Omolara Rose, locum pharmacist, community

I have a passion for pharmacy, and I want to share it. Pharmacy has set sail on a new and challenging, yet exciting, voyage. I feel uniquely positioned to serve and share my passion both at strategic and grassroots levels.

I served as public relations officer and chair of the Leeds branch. I helped organise branch meetings, did radio interviews, presented motions at AGM and attended parliament lobbying events, etc. I continue to share my passion with peers and colleagues within the new framework on the West Yorkshire RPS steering committee and as Leeds locality representative.

Furthermore, my voluntary work with the Leeds BME Hub as a health subgroup representative involves arranging a host of activities, meetings and action plans. These range from engaging black and minority ethnic (BME) communities, NHS commissioners, local councillors, etc. I recently participated in a question and answer session with the leader of the House of Commons. I have also attended EPB meetings both as RPSGB and RPS and made acquaintance with board members contributing to discussions when invited to.

In conclusion, I am a lifelong learner and eternal optimist and look forward to infusing my passion into pharmacy at this historic moment.

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Robert Severn, branch manager, Well Pharmacy, Radcliffe-on-Trent, Nottingham

I have been a member of Nottinghamshire LPC for over ten years and have been chair for seven years, I am a member of Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire local professional network (LPN) and in the past I was a member of two primary care trust (PCT) professional executive committees. In addition to this, I have undertaken work in a GP surgery setting, all at the same time as working in a community pharmacy.

During my time as a LPC member in Nottinghamshire, I have been involved in some fantastic work, from the recent ground-breaking community pharmacist independent prescriber project pilot, which has seen innovative ways of working now embedded in local practice. The electronic transfer of patient discharge data from local NHS trust hospitals to the patients’ community pharmacy. Domiciliary visits by pharmacists to housebound patients and the commissioning and continued availability of minor ailments, emergency hormonal contraception and emergency supply schemes. These projects and schemes do not just happen, they take work and effort by a large number of dedicated professionals and require drive and enthusiasm by the individuals and teams that deliver them. I believe that with this experience I will bring a positive can do approach to the RPS EPB with a proven track record of delivery and collaboration.

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Ashok Soni, pharmacist, Copes Pharmacy

As a current member of the English Pharmacy Board and immediate past president I bring a wealth of experience. I continue to own, operate and develop pharmacies in the community to show how pharmacists enhance patient and public outcomes. I will work with local GPs and care homes to demonstrate how this team working delivers the best outcomes. Through this I will advocate at a national and international level the benefits this brings. I believe that I can continue to demonstrate my passion and commitment to the profession and my aspirations for all pharmacists. I have worked with hospital colleagues to show how we can work in a more cohesive way and utilise the breadth of knowledge to improve care. I will continue to promote this as the route to an integrated profession. I have worked at a national level with the breadth of health and care to advocate the critical role pharmacists play in a truly integrated care team and I will continue that in the future.

As a member of the Pharmacy and Public Health Forum, I have been involved in ensuring pharmacy continues to be seen as a key player in improving health and well-being and I will continue to look to expand the role of pharmacists in this important area.

As the LPN chair for London I have responsibility for developing service opportunities for pharmacists. I will continue to advocate on the professions’ behalf on an expanding role in all areas of health and care.

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Altaf Vaiya, community pharmacy manager/director

I have been a community pharmacist for almost 10 years; in this short period I have helped, supported and mentored many pharmacists. Alongside publishing pharmacy related articles in many pharmaceutical publications, including The
Pharmaceutical Journal, I have won and been shortlisted for numerous community pharmacy prizes.

I have created preregistration crash courses to help preregistration students, including a Whatsapp mentoring network that has helped provide free support to thousands of students over the past few years, in addition to running mentoring events for newly qualified and locum pharmacists, helping to share good practice, new ideas and new initiatives.

I am an elected member of my LPC and I have helped establish a pharmacy federation for independent community pharmacies in Leicester. I understand community pharmacy and I understand the needs especially of community pharmacists. My expertise in this area will help shape the way the RPS supports community pharmacists and how it needs to protect the interests of community pharmacy as a leading NHS service provider.

No one is born an expert, you learn to become an expert from the experiences you find yourself in and from the knowledge shared with you by people who have experience. If elected I want to seek the knowledge from my peers so I can be a good representative to the people who believe in electing me.

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Ewan Black, pharmacy superintendent and manager, Greenhead Pharmacy, Dumbarton

I would not be standing for re-election if in the past I have not made a difference. I have been honoured to serve on the Scottish Pharmacy Board (SPB) for quite a few years and this experience has given me insight and an understanding of the nature of pharmacy as it is practised by colleagues in other sectors of the profession. This time has also given me a similar insight into the workings of the RPS itself and, more importantly, what it can and cannot do and how to get things done.

As an employed community pharmacist I bring no conflicting agendas to the position as board member, just a wealth of experience and knowledge of the job. If successful, I promise to bring hard work, honesty, frankness, pragmatism and a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position.

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Jonathan Burton, community pharmacist and director, Right Medicine Pharmacy, University of Stirling

I work as a community pharmacist, and I would bring my experience as a patient-facing practitioner to the board table. Dealing directly with patients and the public brings joys, worries and frustrations, and it’s important that RPS policy reflects the challenges faced by the majority of the profession, and our hopes and aspirations too. I’ve been fortunate to be able to train and now practise as a prescriber and undergo clinical assessment skills training, I am determined to increase access for community pharmacists in particular to these wonderful opportunities. In practice I have designed and contributed to the development of the ‘Pharmacy First’ concept in my local NHS health board, and shared details of my own clinic work (common clinical conditions — assessment and treatment) with many colleagues across Scotland.

If I say I believe in an idea or way of practising then I absolutely try to make it happen. Words have to be backed up with actions. I fully support and am committed to the RPS Faculty programme and have submitted my portfolio twice, helping others with theirs also. I have previously served on the SPB and built a reputation for being a hard worker who is committed to the Society and the profession in Scotland.

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Ross Ferguson, freelance clinical author; freelance pharmacy and healthcare writer; editor of pharmacyinpractice.scot; creator of Kid-Dose app, and locum pharmacist

I have experience across a range of positions in my pharmacy career as a pharmacy owner, a pharmacy manager, a locum as well as editor of a national pharmacy magazine.

During that time, I have been on a number of committees, advisory boards, and panels, so have a firm understanding of how pharmacy works on the frontline and behind the scenes, as well as within the wider healthcare context.

I know what it’s like working day-to-day in the pharmacy, the pressures of ownership, the challenges of locuming and the needs of patients. This understanding and my passion for pharmacy will ensure that my input reflects the reality for pharmacists on the ground to ensure that the focus of the RPS remains on delivering for its members who are there for their patients.

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Ailsa Power, associate postgraduate pharmacy dean, NHS Education for Scotland

I have served one term (three years) on the SPB. I now know how the RPS works and how to progress ideas and deliver for members. For the past year I have been vice-chair of the board and deputised for the chair when required.

Qualified for over 25 years, I have had practical experience in almost all sectors of pharmacy practice and in my current job as associate postgraduate pharmacy dean at NHS Education for Scotland (NES), I plan, organise and deliver essential education and training to all pharmacy sectors. I believe I have a good knowledge and understanding of national developments and workings in all areas, and am able to effectively network to collate the problems, worries and opportunities for members. My job has a national remit and I therefore travel routinely around Scotland — meeting practitioners and RPS members from all areas of practice.

I have worked for over a decade in pharmacy education and training, which will be very useful when continuing fitness to practise or revalidation becomes a reality for our profession in the next few years. Members will need support during the introduction of revalidation and the RPS must be ready and able to deliver practical and timely advice and support.

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Deborah Alice Stafford, principal pharmacist for education, training and development within NHS Tayside

I will bring to the board my experience of working within the hospital service but with an appreciation that there is much for us to learn from each other within the profession. Since I qualified I have worked in the secondary care setting across four very different health boards. I am responsible for the development of preregistration training within our board and I still contribute to the weekend working team to keep in touch with the core pharmacy service.

I have experience of working with colleagues from community, practice and hospital pharmacy, medicine and pharmacy schools and multi-disciplinary teams developing patient services and learning opportunities for early career pharmacists.

I will bring a working knowledge of the challenges faced by early career pharmacists seeking to move between sectors and an appreciation of the concerns that the non-prescribing pharmacist has regards their future career options. My aim each day is to ensure that all pharmacists appreciate the contribution that our whole profession provides to healthcare ensuring safe use of medicines for the public no matter what their day to day job is.

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Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, What relevant experience or expertise from your professional background will you bring to the RPS pharmacy board?;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20202663

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