The role community pharmacy teams play in improving the health and well-being of local communities across the UK was celebrated at the Independent Pharmacy Awards at the House of Commons today.
An audience of some of the most influential figures in the pharmacy profession, wider NHS and politics were at the event to see five awards handed to community pharmacies for their inspiring healthcare work.
Faheem Ahmed from Ahmeys Pharmacy in Oxford was named Independent Pharmacist of the Year while Michelle Claridge from Aqua Pharmacy in Ipswich was highly commended.
Shaheen Bhatia from P&S Chemist in East London picked up the Independent Pharmacy Innovation Award, with Ade Williams, who runs Bedminster Pharmacy in Bristol, highly commended.
This year's Key Staff Member was Milton Kent Nuako Owusu from Fieldway Pharmacy in south London and Sandra Faria Pestana at Croasdales Pharmacy in Suffolk was highly commended.
Tracey Kyle from New Life Pharmacy in Glasgow was named Health Champion while Ms Owusu was highly commended.
The Pharmacy Team accolade went to Gemma McCartan’s team at McCartan’s Pharmacy in Newry, Northern Ireland. Soenaid Anderson's team at KBT Pharmacy in Kirkcudbright, Scotland, were highly commended.
The awards also heard from Gerard Greene, the chief executive of Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI), who spoke about the sector's plight in the country following a survey by CPNI this year that revealed almost 400 community pharmacists had left the profession in the last two years amid concerns over workforce pressures and funding constraints.
The survey showed that nearly 85 per cent of community pharmacies had lost pharmacists, 70 per cent of contractors were unable to fill advertised roles and 90 per cent were either worried or extremely worried about their future workforce.
"One word of caution to the other parts of the UK is not to find yourselves with the same workforce problems that we now face in Northern Ireland," Greene said.
"Our workforce difficulties have arisen through a combination of a progressive practice-based pharmacist recruitment programme, an under-investment in community pharmacy in recent years, loss of young pharmacists in their early years to (the Republic of Ireland) and further afield and the reducing numbers of pharmacy graduates in Northern Ireland."