Recognition of Excellence Awards 2021
Lelsey is a real pharmacy champion who, having worked in pharmacy for more than 40 years, “is still on her feet, providing the best service to her patients”.
Eagle-eyed readers of TM may recognise Lesley Vernoum-Norman from the RoE Awards in 2018. That year, she took home a highly commended accolade in the Healthy Living Advisor category – being described by the judges as a force of nature. And this year, she was back, having been nominated by her colleague, pre-registration pharmacist Serene Tan.
Starting in pharmacy at the age of 16, and admitting that she’s “not really looked back since”, Lesley is actually rather modest about her contribution to her pharmacy and their community, despite the impressive longevity of her service. “It’s about all of us in the team,” she says. “We try and do our best for all our patients and treat everyone with the same care. We are here to help and to provide a service – hopefully that’s what we do.”
But for Serene, Lesley really does stand out. “She knows the local community extremely well and, on top of that, she works very closely with the local surgeries and has built a very good relationship between them and the pharmacy, which is crucial for patient care.”
Similar relationships have also been built with the district nurses, and Lesley says that having open lines of communication with these healthcare professionals makes everyone’s job easier, as well as being of benefit to their patients, which is what matters most.
Lesley was instrumental in organising Abbotswood Pharmacy’s award-winning campaign to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer in association with the charity Pancreatic Cancer Action. “We had a stall at the local church bazaar at Christmastime – we all dressed in purple and sprayed our hair purple and were very visible!” she explains. “People stopped and talked to us and, as well as promoting the pharmacy in general, we highlighted the disease and the fact that anyone can come into the pharmacy to talk to us and we can help them find more information. It’s a dreadful disease.”
For Lesley, pancreatic cancer is a very personal topic as her father died of the condition many years ago. “The more we can do to raise awareness and offer practical help and support, the better,” she says.
This, along with Lesley’s other work, was commended by each of the RoE Awards judges, who say she is clearly devoted not only to her customers, but also the community as a whole. Richard Dunne, senior manager pharmacy learning and development at Boots UK, says: “Lesley demonstrates how community pharmacy is the heart of the community.” And Salim Jetha, chairman of Avicenna, adds that he is particularly impressed by Lesley’s “very innovative ways of interacting with the local community”.