1. Can you give us a brief overview of your experience as a pharmacist?
I qualified in 2016 so have been a pharmacist for 5 years and had quite a varied and exciting career so far. In July 2021, I took on the role of Clinical Services Pharmacist with Soar Beyond to further hone and refine my skills as well as really help other pharmacists to accelerate their careers in primary care. I wish I had known about Soar Beyond’s i2i Network and its suite of e-learning and implementation resources when starting out in general practice myself.
2. When you started out in general practice, what were your main challenges?
I found there was often a lack of understanding about the roles of practice pharmacists and PCN pharmacists; what we could do competently and what we needed to be supported to grow and develop. In some cases, pharmacists were being underutilised for their expertise and, in other situations, they were asked to complete tasks outside their competence. Until I joined Soar Beyond, I had not realised that there was such a thing as the SMART platform to help PCNs and federations to mobilise their pharmacy workforce through competency mapping, KPI setting and so much more! Helping new pharmacists and practices set expectations and development plans at the outset is a real game-changer.
3. How would the i2i Network have helped you as a PCN clinical pharmacist?
Honestly, I feel that accessing the FREE i2i Network should be an essential addition to any clinical pharmacist’s toolkit. It provides the pharmacist with insight into a therapy area bespoke for their role; this is nice and concise without overloading them with too much information, which is often the case with e-learning, where some of the information may not be relevant to the role. The Applied Learning webinars and on-demand content consolidate the e-learning and help bring the theory to life. The key element which differentiates the i2i programmes is the implementation resources. As GP pharmacists, it can often be difficult to get a project off the ground due to a lack of implementation resources. However, with the i2i programmes, you are provided with plenty of resources. For example, searches to help identify patients relevant to a therapy area, or consultation templates to help record information which can be coded into the clinical system. Whilst I was in practice, identifying the correct cohort of patients through building a search was very difficult and could take a lot of time. However, if all the resources are available at the click of a finger, it would be much easier to implement projects. Such resources are available through the i2i Network.
4. What were the biggest challenges in your journey as a Senior/Lead PCN Pharmacist?
I was fortunate enough to be offered the position of being the lead pharmacist for our PCN after only a year or so, having covered 9 practices. Taking a leap into line management, leadership and service change is a big one for most pharmacists and one that we are not really supported with. I soon realised there were not really any resources, training programmes or tools out there to help support in leading a team to drive better patient outcomes. I genuinely feel proud that I am now shaping and helping to develop programmes like the i2i LEAD programme designed for people exactly like myself – practical and implementation-focussed.
5. Now you know about Soar Beyond’s LEAD programme, how do you think this would have benefited you as a Senior/Lead PCN Pharmacist?
Often in practice you can have a great idea for a project. However, you are unsure where to start, what resources you need, how you would implement the project, how to convince others that it would be a great project, and so many other questions. The LEAD programme empowers the pharmacist to help diagnose a quality improvement (QI) problem, design a solution, deliver the project, and demonstrate the benefits that the project has led to. I think the practical resources and project focus make this programme unique in helping senior/lead PCN pharmacists plan QI or service change projects and go on to implement them.
"We commissioned SMART for our pharmacy workforce in March 2020 recognising that we had ambitious plans to rapidly expand the workforce in the next two years and that we needed a structured framework to ensure standardised delivery of the clinical pharmacist and technician role across our 6 PCNs.
The support we commissioned, including 4D Accelerator sessions with our senior pharmacists, ensured a shared vision and agreed set of competencies as well as a delivery plan for the service. This enabled us to use the SMART platform to quickly create a map of baseline competencies and capabilities which highlighted and identified training and development needs. We now have a focused development plan and set of agreed service milestones, KPIs including DES deliverables like SMRs; best of all, we have visibility of all of these to share with our PCNs. Having expanded our team rapidly to already having 25 clinical pharmacists and 6 technicians, SMART has been vital in providing assurance to the PCNs about the quality of the pharmacy workforce and has given us all clarity of service deliverables and priorities. Because Soar Beyond also has the i2i Network, we have been delighted that we are now addressing one of our key development needs around managing frail older patients by implementing a federation-wide quality improvement (QI) initiative including training, upskilling and systematic review and management.
I feel the structure of the SMART platform and the wrap-around support of the Soar Beyond team has been instrumental in helping us to rapidly standardise and provide a quality service and would recommend this for services- both large and small."
Juliet Fletcher -Senior Meds Optimisation Pharmacist and Senior Lead Pharmacist for Sunderland GP Alliance
“We chose Soar Beyond to help us develop and implement our Pharmacy Activation Strategy because of their heritage and expertise in primary care pharmacy; they really understand the various pharmacy sectors and their relative importance for our portfolio of products. Not only have they helped us to map the entire patient journey and potential interventions, but they have supported us to identify the service and workforce development opportunities so that we have a clear short, medium, and long-term vision and matching value offer that will drive market access of our brands.”
Marketing Director, Top 10 Global Pharmaceutical Company
"Soar Beyond’s QI (Quality Improvement) pods are an innovative, interactive way of engaging an interested cohort of customers, galvanising their desire to make QI change and providing them with the structure and support to do this well. Through an expression of interest process, Soar Beyond has been facilitating these QI pods to help equip the frailty champions to drive the QI in their practices. We now have developed a frailty QI community through the pods which is really helping us to build relationships with these GP Clinical Pharmacists for us as a company and supporting patient and process QI implementation. Having the QI pods as a value offer to drive implementation has been a key part of our delivery and implementation strategy."
Hannah Harding, Senior Scientific Affairs Manager, Nutricia.
"Novo Nordisk has been working with Soar Beyond since 2016 to support NHS organisations, to optimise their pathways and clinical services, using the Soar Beyond proprietary 4D™ methodology in facilitated stakeholder meetings. This started with Soar Beyond’s consultancy and expertise in delivering 4D™ change programmes. Due to the success of this approach, we have now rolled out an intensive upskilling programme for our field based market access team, whereby they become accredited to apply the 4D™ methodology to support service optimisation. I’ve enjoyed the collaborative approach with Soar Beyond to create market access solutions to meet both our business and NHS customer needs"
Hasseena Winter, National Market Access Manager
"Having worked with Soar Beyond on a number of training and NHS partnering projects at different companies, I have found them to be very responsive to our needs and to ensure the subject matter is both relevant and informative. As they work at the cutting edge with the NHS directly, the additional offerings around tool kits to support healthcare professionals are forward thinking and absolutely in line with the NHS agenda. For example, the i2i toolkit which they have developed for our disease area focus has attracted huge interest from medicines management and primary care network pharmacists. This provides a platform on which we can act as peer level partners in the improved management of patients whilst provide us with commercial opportunities in line with this agenda. I would wholeheartedly recommend working with Shailen and his team."
Colin Smith, Head of Field Sales, Alliance Pharma