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Sophie Wilkinson

Sophie Wilkinson took home our first ever Sustainability Champion Award at the recognition of Excellence Awards 2023.

Sophie Wilkinson 
Good Life Pharmacy
Sustainability Champion Award

Sophie Wilkinson [middle, pictured with Training Matters editor, Monica West (right) and Neil Trainis, editor of Independent Community Pharmacist magazine (left)] has only been working in pharmacy for a year and a half but has already made a significant impact. “Sophie joined us after college as an apprentice dispenser,” explains nominator and pharmacist, Lindsey Fairbrother. “Having just passed her apprenticeship she is now enrolled as a checking dispenser to enable full support of the pharmacist and leave them able to focus on patient-centred services.

“Sophie works keenly to organise and run the dispensary on a day to day basis,” adds Lindsey. “She takes responsibility for ordering products, talking to the surgery when prescription changes are required and chasing credits from suppliers when not received. She has even designed a new pharmacy leaflet to champion services.”

Aside from her work in the dispensary, one of the greatest impacts Sophie has had on the pharmacy so far is pioneering the introduction of the insulin pens recycling scheme. It is this that saw the RoE judges award her winner of the Sustainability category. 

Explaining the scheme 

“We get given a little box that we make up for the patient and there’s a number from one to 12 on the side,” explains Sophie. “Once the patients finish using that insulin pen, they discard the needles in their sharps box like normal. 

“Where most patients would just throw away their insulin pens, they can now pop them into the box, tick them off one by one until they get to 12 and then bring it back to the pharmacy. We then send it off to our suppliers to recycle it.” 

Not content with leaving it there, Sophie also worked with the team to make sure that the service was being advertised to the best of their abilities. 

“When the pharmacist checks off the prescriptions, we stick a sticker on it. The dispenser who gives it out then always knows to provide a leaflet and the box, whilst explaining the process.” 

Her hard work has paid off and – in the short time it has been running – the service has become extremely popular with customers. “We’ve only brought it in in the last couple of weeks, but we have already had a lady who’s brought back two boxes,” says Sophie. “She had kept all her insulin pens because she didn’t know if she could chuck them or put them in her sharps box with her needles.

“Other customers have also said that it’s good because they felt like they were just putting their insulin pens into landfill when they put them in the bin. It seems to be really paying off.” 

The RoE judges couldn’t agree more. “It’s nice to see someone doing something different in engaging in a recycling service,” says Raj Nutan, healthcare strategy and services director at Alliance Healthcare and Alphega Pharmacy UK. Janice Perkins, chair of the RPS Community Pharmacy Expert Advisory Group, adds: “I was impressed that as well as setting up the pen recycling scheme, Sophie has designed a process to engage patients and make sure everyone is aware of its availability”. A sustainability success!

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Recognition of Excellence