Jo, Specialist Pharmacist - Theatres and Critical Care

Jo Wilkinson.jpeg

Working as a Pharmacist has always been a challenging, yet rewarding career; however nothing had prepared me for the challenges that I have faced during the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the Pharmacist on the critical care unit at Hinchingbrooke Hospital I realised that there would be a significant pressure on the unit and that I had to start preparing.  Planning to increase the number of beds on the unit meant that I needed to ensure we had enough medications for those patients. As well as ensuring we had medicines I provided information for staff to be redeployed to the critical care unit so that they could administer medication safely. As our patient numbers increased I saw my role on the ward change and as well as my usual clinical duties I was helping in any way that I could to support the team.

In April 2020 NWAngliaFT became one of the trial sites for the RECOVERY trial, which is a national clinical trial investigating potential treatments for Covid-19. Our pharmacy clinical trials team along with the research nurses effectively set up the trial within the Trust in a limited amount of time. Supported by clinical ward pharmacists and technicians the Trust had recruited over 300 patients into the trial by December 2020. The trial protocol is changed frequently which means that the pharmacy team have to continually update their knowledge of the medications within the trial.

Our pharmacy processes changed within dispensary areas to follow national guidance in minimising the risk of transmission through surface contamination and to reduce the number of patients that were required to attend pharmacy to collect their prescriptions. This proved challenging as we had to find different ways to provide information to patients to ensure they were able to use their medicines safely.  Ward clinical pharmacy processes also changed to minimise transmission risks but also to ensure that we continued to provide good service to all ward areas.  At the beginning of the pandemic we changed our working hours to provide a 7 day clinical service to critical care and Covid-19 receiving wards as well as continuing to support non-covid ward areas.

In December 2020 the first Covid-19 vaccine was approved for use and Peterborough City Hospital was named as one of the first vaccine hubs. The provision of the vaccination programme needed input from pharmacy through obtaining, storing and preparing the vaccination.

On a personal level I have been challenged in my role as a clinical pharmacist during the Covid-19 pandemic and continue to provide the best that I can by regularly reflecting on my practice. The pharmacy department has had a crucial role to play in the Trust’s response to managing the Covid-19 pandemic as we strive to provide patients with safe and effective medication and actively live the Trust’s vision and values.