Lindsay Harper, NCA Group Director of Pharmacy

Lindsay Harper   NCA Group Director of Pharmacy

Lindsay Harper, NCA Group Director of Pharmacy

What is your role? (Job/Team/Department)

I am the NCA Group Director of Pharmacy and part of the NCA Diagnostics and Pharmacy Management Team.

Where are you based?

I work across the Northern Care Alliance supporting and leading all the pharmacy teams and I also ensure we have safe systems for managing medicines across the NCA.

What are the main duties you do as part of your role?

I am responsible for leading the pharmacy services across the NCA, developing the service to meet the future demands of the Care Organisations. This would include acute and community services, working with the CCGs and all the other Chief Pharmacists across Greater Manchester. I am also responsible for ensuring medicines are used safely across the NCA and that we have robust systems in place for medicines, so patients receive the right medicine at the right time in a timely manner and NCA staff are supported to use medicines appropriately.

What attracted you to a career in science?

I always enjoyed Chemistry and Biology at school and I wanted to choose a career where I could use science in a practical way. My Grandfather was a pharmacist and I always thought his job sounded fascinating so I was drawn to do it at University - not that my Grandfather would recognise what pharmacists do today compared to what he had to do on a daily basis. I would struggle to make a suppository or an ointment like he regularly did! He would have loved to work on the wards as clinical pharmacist as part of the multidisciplinary team as I have been able to do as part of my career.

What has your main role been during the COVID-19 pandemic – and how has that role changed to accommodate the demands generated by the pandemic?

When the COVID pandemic hit in March 2020 everything changed in terms of the Pharmacy Service that was required across the NCA to support the care organisations. We had to quickly develop new policies and procedures on how to handle medicines safely to protect patients and staff. The pharmacy team also had to make sure we introduced the new infection control rules within the pharmacy departments, so all the staff could work safely in the departments, introducing new technologies to enable remote working where possible.

With the increase in the number of critical care beds, we had to increase the number of pharmacy staff trained to work in critical care and ensure we had adequate supplies of critical medicines. As the nurses were in full PPE, the Pharmacy Aseptic Team made up additional ready-made infusions to release time for the nurses, so they did not need to make the infusions while dressed in PPE. We also supported the care homes across the NCA, so patients were able to be discharged safely and could access medicines quickly. We had to quickly develop a secure medicines delivery service for shielding patients who had been seen virtually.  

In December, the COVID-19 vaccination programme started across the NCA and the pharmacy team have been critical in developing the vaccine hubs and making sure the vaccine is handled safely. Policies and procedures were developed quickly to support the staff working in the hubs by the pharmacy team. We have helped to prepare FAQs about the vaccines and supported the clinical staff in the hubs with clinical questions about the vaccine. I have been responsible for the set-up of the vaccine hubs across the NCA as part of the vaccination hub leading on the pharmaceutical aspects.

All in all the COVID pandemic has been challenging for the pharmacy team, but we have worked together and supported each other to provide a safe pharmacy service to the NCA along with the clinical teams.

What are your thoughts on the role of women in science?

I have greatly enjoyed my career as a pharmacist and have loved being able to apply science on a daily basis. If I had my time again, I would still do pharmacy, as there are so many different career paths you can choose; whether that is in community pharmacy, a hospital, in a GP practice or Industry. There is a role to suit everyone. Over the years, I have worked with lots of different pharmacy staff and members of the multidisciplinary team and I have learnt so much from all of them. Every day in this job is different, but as a pharmacist you can make a real difference to patient care. I would say the most rewarding aspect is when a patient thanks you for making them feel better.