By Clair Huckerby, Consultant Pharmacist and member of the RPS Primary Care Expert Advisory Group
I have had a varied career, working in academia, hospital, community and secure environments and moving to Primary Care in 1999.
Leading the way
I was one of the first pharmacist prescribers in the country in 2004 and became an independent prescriber in 2007, my areas of clinical interest are rheumatology and cardiovascular disease.
I first became accredited as a Consultant Pharmacist in Primary Care in 2018 after 22 years as a qualified pharmacist. I was the first to work in Primary Care in the UK and whilst I had demonstrated I met the necessary criteria, it was the role that was accredited rather than me as an individual. I received incredible support from colleagues and peers for which I will be always grateful.
Two years later I changed roles, moving to Our Health Partnership (OHP), which is a GP Superpartnership.
OHP is based across two Integrated Care System (ICS) geographies in Birmingham and Shropshire, we have 10 Primary Care Networks (PCNs) and 47 GP practices serving a patient population in excess of 500,000 patients. My role involves providing Board-level leadership not only for the pharmacy workforce but also for the growing PCN Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) staff whilst leading on PCN matters.
Developing the workforce
My role is part-funded by each of our PCNs and so when I joined in 2020, I applied for and was granted an exemption from the CPPE for the Primary Care Pharmacy Education Pathway. A large proportion of our Pharmacy team have decades of experience in Primary Care and so the organisation has supported them through this exemption process, which recognises their prior experience. We have created robust governance systems and processes to ensure all our staff work at a high standard and are appropriately supported with mentorship, coaching and clinical supervision.
Workforce development is my passion and since joining the organisation we have grown our workforce to over 100 staff, working in a variety of exciting roles ranging from Advanced Clinical Pharmacist Practitioners to Personalised care roles such as Social Prescribers, Health and wellbeing coaches and Care Coordinators.
My role has enabled me to be involved with and lead on some exciting new projects. For example, developing the first Care Coordination course accredited by the Personalised Care Institute to meet the needs of the PCN Directed Enhanced Service Contract back in early 2020, and creating a workforce development programme for pharmacists and technicians taking them from undergraduate level right through to advanced level practice.
Patient centred care
I am also working alongside our PCN Clinical Directors to develop our PCN level MDTs in accordance with our patient-centered model. Our patients can access a range of locally commissioned services which are relevant to the population. We are striving to reduce health inequalities across the PCN, starting small by designing interventions to make an impact, and this is generating lots of excitement.
When I created my job plan, I made sure I retained a patient focus and spend a minimum of 3 sessions a week in clinical practice. In recent years I have supported the running of our Local Vaccination Sites and can regularly be found rolling my sleeves up, reconstituting and vaccinating patients. A colleague once said if they were chopped in half like a stick of rock they would have Pharmacist written all the way through it; I think I would too, but it would be Primary Care Pharmacist. I’m really excited for the next generation of Pharmacists, it truly is an incredible career choice with so many options and opportunities and I am super proud to be a Primary Care Pharmacist.
Find out more about the RPS Primary Care Pharmacy Expert Advisory Group.