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The Independent Pharmacy Awards shone the spotlight on the inspiring work of independent pharmacists and their teams across the UK.

The Awards at the House of Commons, held in association with Independent Community Pharmacist magazine, drew politicians, pharmaceutical company executives and leading figures from across the pharmacy industry and NHS, including the Conservative MP Bob Neill, PSNC chief executive Janet Morrison and David Webb and Andrew Evans, the chief pharmaceutical officers for England and Wales respectively.

In an impassioned speech, Evans told the Awards that community pharmacy in Wales had received good support from the Welsh government, including “a sweeping set of reforms to the contractual framework” for all 712 community pharmacies in the country.

Those reforms, he said, were underpinned by six principles; capacity, capability, collaboration, continuity, community and connectivity, all of which would continue to “rapidly expand the clinical role of pharmacists” and “incentivise workforce development.”

Evans said increasing investment in community pharmacy made by the Welsh government, including an additional £6 million in this financial year, “encourages and rewards pharmacies that do more of the things the NHS needs.

He spoke enthusiastically about the “nationally directed clinical community pharmacy service,” implemented by the Welsh government in April which has enabled pharmacies in Wales to provide common ailments, seasonal influenza, emergency contraception and emergency medicine supply services across the country.

He also revealed one in five pharmacies in Wales now provides independent prescribing services and insisted there are “plans to take us to one in three by early next year, half of all pharmacies by 2025 and every pharmacy well before the end of the decade.”

ICP editor Neil Trainis warned that in England, flat central funding could see independents already struggling with rising overheads and the cost-of-living crisis close their doors. He urged the government to put more funding into the community pharmacy contractual framework or risk endangering the community pharmacy network.

Six hotly contested awards were handed out…

The Independent Pharmacist of the Year Award, a category that once again attracted some excellent entrants, was won by Carys Spencer at Pontyclun Pharmacy.

Ms Spencer manages the small village pharmacy in South Wales in the greater Cardiff area and has had an extremely busy and successful last 12 months having delivered offsite smoking cessation and flu vaccination events and provided a range of services including a record number of common ailments service consultations.

Her pharmacy has been at the forefront of service delivery and were early adopters of the sore throat test and treat service as well as Attend Anywhere, an initiative allowing pharmacies to talk to patients through virtual clinics via video consultations.

Ms Spencer is pictured with her trophy. Next to her is ICP editor Neil Trainis. The Independent Pharmacist of the Year Award was sponsored by Numark.

Community Pharmacy Liverpool, which represents 122 community pharmacies across the city, were named Best Supporting Local Representative Group.

Over the past 12 months the LPC has worked tirelessly to expand the services offered through local pharmacies to help increase public access to healthcare that has been hampered by the Covid pandemic.

Working with NHS England, the LPC has helped recruit 78 out of 85 GP practices in the city to refer patients for pharmacy consultations through the new Community Pharmacy Consultation Service, helping relieve pressure on GP surgeries. Over 6,500 patients were referred in 2021-22, making Liverpool the third highest area for referrals in England.

To support GP referrals, the LPC launched a ‘Pharmacy First’ service through the city’s pharmacies last year. This allows pharmacists to provide medicines for a range of medical conditions that would otherwise need to be treated by a doctor. Numbers have grown steadily from a standing start in April 2021 and have now reached over 600 provisions a month.

The Community Pharmacy Liverpool team are pictured with Paul Swingwood (second from the right), National Account Manager at EM Pharma, the sponsors of the award.

West Hill Pharmacy, in Bessingby Gate, Bridlington, won the Pharmacy Team of the Year Award.

Jaya Authunuri, who is the pharmacy manager, has a special interest in diabetes and heart failure. He is supported by locum pharmacist Aswini Gaali. Both are independent prescribers.

Nina Holgate and Gemma Gordon are the pharmacy’s accuracy checking technician, with dispensers Cherize Micabalo and Faye Jordan making up the in-store team. Gary Wainwright works as the delivery driver for the free prescription delivery service the pharmacy offers.

Despite being on the outskirts of town, West Hill Pharmacy dispenses around 9,000 NHS prescriptions a month and provides services such as compliance aids for vulnerable patients and blood pressure checks for anyone who requires one. The pharmacy offers health checks for eligible patients aged 40-75 to help prevent life-changing conditions such as heart attack and stroke.

Other services the pharmacy provides include a minor ailment service, needle exchange for drug misusers, emergency hormonal contraception supply, a palliative care service, and vital flu and Covid vaccinations.

The team are pictured with Adam Dennett (middle left), the managing director of Cegedim, the sponsors of the award.

Winchester pharmacy Remedi Health came top of the Pharmacy Innovation category.

The pharmacy, managed by pharmacist Deborah Evans, does not dispense NHS prescriptions and focuses on private services. It opened in December 2021, having previously operated from a pop-up location offering Covid tests. In doing so it was one of the first organisation in the UK to be listed by the government as a private provider of Covid testing.

Remedi Health reverses the traditional community pharmacy approach. There are no plans to obtain an NHS contract, and instead of offering NHS services, it offers clinical services privately.

The pharmacy has a private prescription service (Deborah is an independent prescriber) and supplies over-the-counter medicines. Rather than the familiar NHS dispensing service as seen in most community pharmacies, Remedi offers a range of private testing and treatment services.

Deborah Evans is pictured with Sam Unsworth (right), head of communications at Alliance Healthcare, sponsors of the award.

Derbyshire pharmacist Catherine Haslam won the Locum of the Year Award.

Catherine started her career in hospital pharmacy but switched to the community sector 10 years ago as it fitted better with her family commitments. And she hasn’t looked back since.

She provides cover for various local pharmacies but has supported Good Life Pharmacy in Hatton every week for the past decade. In that time, she has developed her role with the support the pharmacy owner, Lindsey Fairbrother, to providing extended care services, flu vaccines and latterly covid vaccinations.

The two are now very much a partnership, helping each other out and taking on extra duties such as mentoring the team of apprentices and pre-registration pharmacy technicians.

They check holidays at the beginning of each year and make sure we they can cover each other's days off, together with the pharmacy’s other locums. In addition, Catherine and Lindsey have an annual sit down to discuss the business and carry out a peer review.

Lindsey Fairbrother (middle right) picked up the award on behalf of Catherine Haslam and is pictured with Gary Williams (far right), chief commercial officer at New Directions, sponsors of the award.

Bristol-based Beata Mularska was voted Pharmacy Technician of the Year.

Beata, who works at Bedminster Pharmacy in Cannon Street, Bristol, started working in the pharmacy as a dispenser 10 years ago. She finished her training in a record seven months, progressing to train as a pharmacy technician course and then completing an accuracy checking technician’s course.

Bedminster Pharmacy is a family-run independent pharmacy. The business has won a number of awards itself and was one of the first pharmacies in Bristol and South Gloucestershire to provide Covid jabs, running a clinic in a local church hall.

Ade Williams (middle) picked up the award on behalf of Beata Mularska and is pictured with Matthew Caldwell-Nichols (far right), chief executive officer at Precision, sponsors of the award.