The Chesterfield Royal Hospital’s Haematology and Oncology Pharmacy Team has won a prestigious national award.
They’ve been named ‘Pharmacist Team of the Year 2021’ at the Clinigen Direct Love Your Pharmacist Awards 2021 at the 25th European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP) congress after a year where they’ve had to adapt their service due to the Covid pandemic.
Principal Pharmacist for Haematology and Oncology, Ibrahim Al-Modaris, said: “This year we’ve had to work differently for a number of reasons, not least because we were urging a lot of our patients to stay at home as they may well be shielding but also because lots of our team have young children who might force us to isolate if they become slightly unwell (like all children do!) which would put a strain on our specialist service. Remote access and the ability to work from home had to be developed as a priority.
“We set up remote working, so we can log in to the Chesterfield and Weston Park systems, look up patients’ results via ICE and access clinic letters. We have access to almost all the relevant information we need for a consultation electronically. With a lot of our consultations with patients taking place over the phone or via NHS Attend Anywhere it is possible to do a clinic from home, and if we discover that there is a need to see the patients face to face, we have been able to arrange appointments or admissions as required. As good as it is being able to log in remotely however, being on site, in clinic, with our hardworking clinic support colleagues is still the more efficient way of working.
“The most important thing is that we have been able to keep most chemotherapy and anticancer treatment for our patients going after doing risk assessments for the treatments we offer. Despite the stressful time we were all in, I believe we managed to reduce some of the stress many of our cancer patients would have been feeling, worrying about how to get their medication while shielding for example. Each patient and each regimen had to be reviewed individually and we worked closely with their consultants and specialist nurses to deliver patients their medication while reducing their risk of exposure to COVID.
“For example, some of the oral chemotherapy we supply, to reduce the need for our patients to come in we have, in some cases, managed to supply two months’ worth of medication rather than just one. This not only reduced their number of attendances to collect the medication, but also the need to have monthly blood tests. We have also been able to arrange for homecare delivery of prescriptions in some cases, including by taxi for more patients who were shielding. We of course continued our counselling in clinic or from home to help advise patients on how to get the most out of their supportive medicines to reduce side effects from their chemotherapy as well.
“I am very pleased to say that we’ve also been able to get our satellite pharmacy up and running in the NGS Macmillan Unit. This means that we have a Pharmacy Technician, Helen, in the building Mon to Friday, 9 to 5 who can supply and counsel patients on their oral medication. We have also kept the training going to enable more of our pharmacists to become prescribers which gives more flexibility in clinics with more staff able to assess chemotherapy patients and prescribe their treatment. This enables the consultants in clinic to spend more time with complex patients and address their needs. We are now also expanding this role from oncology to haematology as well.”
“This role of assessing chemotherapy patients and prescribing their treatment is one of the most exciting aspects of working as a haematology and oncology pharmacist at Chesterfield Royal and it really allows us to build good relationships with our patients. We are able to use our expert knowledge of medicines as pharmacists to help optimise patient’s cancer treatments at the point of assessment. We have also undergone the additional training required to request scans that patients will need to monitor the effectiveness of their treatment.
Redeveloping and improving inpatients services
“As well as this we have started work to develop and improve our inpatient service. This work will ensure a continuity of service as we work with our inpatient colleagues by providing specialist chemotherapy and cancer advice as needed. It also gives our patients a familiar face from clinic to reassure them during their inpatient stay.
“We have always worked very closely with our nursing and medical colleagues at Chesterfield Royal and Weston Park and that has continued. All the specialist nurses and healthcare assistants in clinic are always on hand to assist us in arranging various things like blood transfusions or scans that patients require, while our medical colleagues always offer helpful advice when things get complicated. We also rely on the efforts of everyone in the pharmacy production unit who prepare and supply all injectable chemotherapies for the patients as well as the ordering office and dispensary staff who keep us stocked up with medication for patients. Without the work of all these staff we would not be here now.
“It has been a difficult time for everyone, but I am very proud of how our team have risen to the challenge and embraced different ways of working to help each other and benefit our patients. I am sure that some of the ways of working we have adapted and developed will continue once we all get back to normal. We are very grateful to receive this award which is for everyone in our fantastic team and it should encourage us to keep the good work going.”
Chesterfield Royal Hospital supports the marketing and economic growth of the town through Chesterfield Champions, a network of over 180 organisations across Chesterfield and North Derbyshire.