Pharmacy Forum NI held its Rewarding Excellence event in the Belfast Harbour Commissioners Building on Thursday 10 November. The event showcased the best in pharmacy through the awarding of Fellowships to pharmacists who have excelled in the profession.
Pharmacy professionals joined politicians and other guests to recognise and celebrate excellence in the pharmacy profession. The Pharmacy Forum NI conferred three new fellows of the Pharmaceutical Society NI, Dr Tracey Boyce, Joe Brogan and Sheelin McKeagney.
The Pharmacy Forum NI also awarded Gold Medals to the overall top students in pharmacy, from Queens University Belfast, Danielle Allen and from Ulster University Coleraine Oisin Kavanagh.
Muriel Singleton was presented a certificate to acknowledge her 50 years of registration and service to pharmacy.
The Ronnie McMullan award was presented to Christopher Spence, who won the award in 2015 and Sophie Gilmore winner of the 2016 award.
Being appointed a Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of NI is one of the highest honours that can be bestowed upon a pharmacist. It is an honour which recognises those individuals who have attained distinction in a particular aspect or aspects of their pharmacy career.
Sheelin McKeagney was awarded a Fellowship in recognition of his exception service to his community and pharmacy, Sheelin has served as Board member of the Health and Social Care Board and also as Chairman of the Southern Local Commissioning Groups, he was the first pharmacist in Northern Ireland to Chair a Local Commissioning Group.
Sheelin serves as the Community Pharmacist representative on the influential Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme Board. He also a Board member of the Community Development Health Network which works to improve people’s lives, health and well-being through community development which releases individual and community capacity and influences change. He currently chairs the Craigavon Heart Town committee, a British Heart Foundation initiative to raise physical activity and reduce heart disease in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council area.
He is a member of the Strategic Leadership Group for Pharmacy at the Department of Health. Currently, he holds positions on the National Appeals Panel and on the Professional Practice Committee of the Health and Social Care Board. He is currently the Chair of the Pharmacy Forum NI.
Dr Tracey Boyce was awarded a Fellowship in recognition of her distinction to pharmacy in Northern Ireland. Tracey has served as Director of Pharmacy and Medicines Management in the Southern HSC Trust since January 2006.
In 2014 Tracey took on additional responsibility as the lead for Governance in the Trust’s Acute Services Directorate and also participates in the Trust’s Assistant Director on-call rota and the Acute operational Assistant Director rota, taking her turn to oversee the day to day running of the Trust’s two acute hospitals.
Before taking up post in the Southern HSC Trust Tracey was an Assistant Director of Pharmacy in the Royal Hospitals Trust. During that time her principal role was to lead and develop the newly formed Northern Ireland Medicines Governance Team. The team, funded by the DHSSPSNI, consisted of six senior hospital pharmacists whose role was to improve medication-related patient safety. In 2004 the Team won the UK Health Service Journal Award for Patient Safety.
Joe Brogan was awarded a Fellowship in recognition of his outstanding service to Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland. Joe is the Head of Pharmacy and Medicines Management for the Health and Social Care Board.
Joe has been recognised for his excellence in the promotion of pharmacy and his work with other healthcare stakeholders in promoting pharmacy. Joe has been instrumental in overseeing the development and delivery of evidence-based practice across primary care through initiatives including the Northern Ireland Regional Formulary.
Joe has worked in a number of senior positions since qualifying from Queens University including as Senior Pharmaceutical Officer where he oversaw a number of key strategies for pharmacy including ‘Making it better through Pharmacy in the Community and the Medicines Management Controls Assurance Standards He also went to Africa for twenty-six months working in a mission hospital pharmacy in northern Zambia through Voluntary Services Overseas.
Closing the event Pharmacy Forum NI Chair and newly conferred Fellow Sheelin Keagney told guests :
“We have produced our ‘Exploring Effective Professional Leadership in Northern Ireland’ discussion document
In our leadership document, we are clear that strong and focused local professional leadership is needed to ensure pharmacists can continue to provide critical services and deliver on new models of practice involving pharmacy.
The regulator sets the standard to protect the public, the leadership body must lead on and push the boundaries of best practice for pharmacists to aspire to.
We also responded to the Department of Health consulted on the ‘Future of Pharmacy Regulation’. In our response we called for key principles of good regulation to be introduced, providing new fit for propose legislation that enables good regulation as well as outlining professional responsibilities.
This modernisation not only allows streamlining of the regulatory process but must also enable the regulation of pharmacy technicians. Not just because we are the only part of the UK that doesn’t regulate pharmacy technicians, but because they are a key component of our pharmacy teams.
We continue to be involved in rebalancing pharmacy legislation UK wide through the Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme Board.
As a key stakeholder we are representing the views of pharmacists in Northern Ireland and we are waiting for the introduction of the first two pieces of legislation to Parliament. An important element of this legislation is the dispensing error proposals for pharmacy professionals working in the community sector and we look forward to it becoming law and soon followed by the same for those working in hospitals in due course.
On the foundations of this work, which has looked at the roles of the responsible pharmacist and superintendent pharmacist we move to the final piece of work on Supervision within registered pharmacy premises. Over the next year, we will work with our members and other stakeholder throughout the UK to ensure that we try to reach a consensus on what this might look like.
To support the rebalancing work the Pharmacy Forum NI, Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Association Pharmacy Technicians UK for the first time have completed a joint professional standard – A professional duty to support patient safety culture through reporting, sharing and learning.
In brief it sets out our expectation as professional bodies that all pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and members of the pharmacy team need to uphold a professional duty to support a patient safety culture and a culture of learning and improvement by being open and honest when things go wrong and reporting actual errors and near misses to the appropriate reporting programme.
The standard will launch at the end of November and we will be looking for your support to ensure its success.
The health news in Northern Ireland has been dominated by the Minister’s Vision for Health and Social Care here ‘Health and Wellbeing 2026 – Delivering Together’
We want to work with the Minster of Health on the outworking of her Vison and we look forward to seeing more details, timescales and funding proposals.
We are encouraged with the Minister’s commitments regarding the community pharmacy contracts situation and her desire to see that moved on with pace.
In Hospitals, pharmacists are a vital part of the healthcare team. In the average general hospital, 97% of patients will be taking medicines – let’s use the medicines experts better. We want to see the greater deployment of multi-disciplinary teams and more consultant pharmacists.
Although pharmacists in GP practice is not new, this new investment will boost capacity in primary care and help patients obtain the best possible health outcomes from their medicines.
- By improving patient safety
- Reduce level of errors
- Reduce waste through, repeat prescribing, medication review and medicines reconciliation.
In addition, we must also continue the ongoing work with other key stakeholders on delivery of the implementation of the Departments pharmacy strategies;
- Medicines Optimisation, Quality Framework
- and the “Making it Better Through Pharmacy in the Community” Strategy
We must take all opportunities to promote and enhance the role of pharmacy in our healthcare system that is why we were delighted earlier this year to accept the invitation from the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer to join Strategic Leadership Group for pharmacy.
Also working collaboratively with other pharmacy professional representative bodies in Northern Ireland in the newly formed PPRB group on implementation of the Making it Better Through Pharmacy in the Community Strategy.
Other key pieces of work
Produced two pieces of guidance recently;
- Clinical Check Guidance
- A Guide to support medication review in older people produced by our special interest group NI pharmacists for Older People
Both of course, are available on our website
But let us also remember:
- Pharmacy is the most accessible Health Care service available to the Public
- Pharmacists are the Medicines Expert,
- If we want people to live longer healthier lives,
- Reduce medicines waste,
- and reduce medicines related readmissions to hospital
- If we really want to tackle issues like reducing the dependency on certain medicines like anti-depressants and current issues like pregabalin in the press recently … then pharmacists must be involved and pharmacists are trained and willing to take up the challenge.
And over the next 12 months, the Forum and I will continue to make the case for pharmacists.”
Other awards presented on the night included the two gold medal winners Danielle Allen from Queens University and Oisin Kavangh from Ulster University Coleraine.
Sophie Gilmore and Christopher Spence