Recognition of Excellence Awards 2022
This Leeds-based team have not only taken on an imaginative and expansive role in their community but continue to evolve and deliver
“Firstly, I need to say that all pharmacy teams have been heroes this last two years and I wish there was a way to reward every single contractor that has worked hard over the pandemic and to be recognised and rewarded,” began Ashley Cohen, managing director at Pharm-Assist, in his nomination. “Any pharmacy that has kept their doors opened and survived everything that has been thrown at them over the last two years deserves a medal.” We wish we could give everyone a medal! But for now we will settle for awarding the team our Pharmacy Team of the Year Award for their outstanding achievements.
Change in the face of adversity
You wouldn’t have thought bringing in huge structural change to the running of the pharmacy would be easy to handle, even without a global pandemic going on. But the Pharm-Assist team defied all notions of precaution to better the lives of their customers. “During the pandemic we invested heavily into robotics and automation to support our care home clients and home tray patients.
"The branch has had to learn new ways of working, manage the transition from manual to automation whilst ensuring that care home supplies are unaffected,” explains Ashley. This certainly impressed the judges. “To develop any pharmacy during the pandemic takes a lot of effort and a great team. This one has gone more than the extra mile, a superlative effort,” says Mike Holden, associate director at Pharmacy Complete.
“The process is now safer, more Covid resilient, and allows us to invest the time with our staff onto other projects,” adds Ashley. And this is a very a good job, considering the number of projects the team have taken on…
The team deal with a complex mix of work, including servicing 50 care homes alongside the busy day to day, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In October 2021 they won a contract with Leeds Hospice. They provided two members of staff to work cross sector at the pharmacy and hospices to help with stock control, ordering, formulary management, audit and training, seven days a week.
“This feels like a real integrated service where community pharmacy is working right at the coal face and rather than have disjointed separate teams at different sectors, community pharmacy teams are working collegiately with primary care clinicians, ward matrons, CCG staff and other stakeholders,” says Ashley.
At the same time this contract went live, the team were asked by a local organisation if they could help support the shift from hospital beds to Community Intermediate Care beds to help increase bed demand in the city. They now support four units across Leeds with medication supply. Not only this but the team also manage a prison contract, provide medication to an alcohol rehabilitation unit in Leeds City Centre and even a provision of services to a boarding school in York.
“On top of all of this we have been heavily involved with the Covid vaccination programme across a number of sites and provided almost 50,000 Covid vaccines whilst maintaining our services,” says Ashley. “These have included setting up and managing community led mass vaccination sites doing circa 850/day, to pop up clinics at university campuses to help with boosters, and also setting up boutique vaccination sites in large retail units to help with those hard to reach groups and the younger cohorts. This last clinic site has been recognised locally as we are now still seeing significant vaccine resistant individuals and are providing a safe service in a non-medical setting which reduces anxiety to some of the younger cohorts.”
“This team must be super-human to achieve all they have,” says RoE judge Reena Barai, independent contractor and pharmacist at S G Barai Pharmacy. “I felt exhausted reading all the new services they’ve adopted and the team must be resilient and determined to have delivered on all of these services.”
On the day of the RoE Awards, the team were actually visited by David Webb, chief pharmaceutical officer for England, to acknowledge them for their achievements. A double win for the Pharm-Assist team!