Gill Middlehurst - Clinical Pharmacist

Gill Middlehurst talks about being a Clinical Pharmacist at the Spire Portsmouth Hospital and Spire Dunedin Hospital

I have developed my clinical pharmacy skills over the past 4 years
Gill Middlehurst

"Prior to joining Spire, I worked in the NHS from 1984 until 2007. Initially I worked as basic grade Pharmacist specialising in Paediatrics, working at Booth Hall and Alder Hey Children’s Hospitals.
Over time, I found that I enjoyed aseptic preparation and so specialised in this area from 1990, ending up on two national committees.

I moved to the South of England in 1998 and from 1999 to 2007, I worked in two posts based at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, initially as Operations Manager and then in August 2000, I was appointed to a higher grade post as the Quality Assurance and Business Manager. In my post as Quality Assurance and Business Manager, I was responsible for the development and delivery of the services of an NHS led Pharmacy Manufacturing Unit including management of the budget, staff and maintenance of the Specials Manufacturing licence. I provided expert advice to the Trust on pharmacy manufacturing and quality assurance based on Good Manufacturing Practice and requirements of the MHRA.  My last role in the Trust included the Project management of the build of a new off-site aseptic manufacturing and quality control unit.

In January 2009, I decided to enter a period of re-training and so updated my skills as a generalist Pharmacist. As a result from April 2009, I worked initially two then increased to three days a week at Spire Clare Park Hospital as a Clinical Pharmacist providing a service for both in-patients and out-patients, dealing with mainly surgical cases in orthopaedics, gynaecology and gastroenterology,

I joined Spire Portsmouth in July 2010 and I theoretically work one day a week at Portsmouth and one day a week at Spire Dunedin, plus cover for annual leave on the bank.

I work as a Clinical Pharmacist covering both general surgery and oncology. I visit the ward each working day and speak to each patient prior to surgery about their current therapies. I see most patients postoperatively to ensure their pain and side effects are controlled effectively and consult them about any medicines they might need when they are going home. I arrange for these to be dispensed and then take them back to the patient and discuss the drugs and doses to be taken on discharge. I attend morning ward rounds and work closely with the nursing and medical staff to ensure appropriate therapies are given and patients are happy with the care that they receive.

At Spire Portsmouth, we have an aseptic suite and so I supervise the preparation of aseptically prepared parenteral therapy and then after preparation, undertake the final check of chemotherapy for patients presenting as both in and out patients. At Dunedin, the chemotherapy is bought in from an external supplier. I then supply the chemotherapy to the Oncology units and counsel patients about their treatment and management of side effects as required. I am involved in promoting VTE prophylaxis and treatment and am the Chairperson of the Hospital VTE group.  Due to my expertise in aseptic services, I am involved in undertaking both internal and external audits of Spire aseptic preparation units. I also enjoy creating SOPs and policies for use within Pharmacy.

In my previous posts, I had no patient contact and very much acted as a back room girl. I now have daily patient contact and enjoy this and endeavour to ensure they have had the best experience possible by being empathetic and cheerful, as well as providing their drugs in a timely fashion. I also deal with any problems that they encounter as a result of their treatment, such as pain control and sickness.

I enjoy the multi-disciplinary working environment in which I operate and have developed good working relationships with both the nursing and medical staff to facilitate communication and ensure the best care for patients.

I have developed my clinical pharmacy skills over the past 4 years. Prior to coming to Spire, I had spent the best part of 20 years working in Pharmacy production and quality assurance, with little or no clinical input into patient care. I have developed an interest in pain management and have worked with various anaesthetists and consultants to try to improve the patient experience and minimise post-operative pain and in VTE prophylaxis and treatment.

The greatest challenge is trying to resolve patient’s pain management, especially for those who can’t tolerate some analgesics due to sensitivities or contra-indications.  It’s necessary to treat every patient as an individual and put together a plan that suits them and their condition. Another challenge is keeping up to date with new drug treatments; it’s a constant learning curve and keeps me on my toes. One challenge is too climb the stairs up to 20 times a day; I don’t need to do keep fit on the days I work!  The last challenge is to keep a good work life balance, especially in the summer when the sun is shining and I’d love to be out on the hill paragliding.

How would I describe the culture in my team?  We are very cultured, I enjoy ballet and theatre and my colleagues enjoy going to the theatre, art galleries and stately homes especially their coffee shops!! Joking apart, I think we are all very patient focussed and work well as a team to provide the best Pharmaceutical care we can."

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