A gathering of pharmacists

 In Feature article, Medicines Management Processes, New Ashtons Services, Pharmacy Information, Quality Management

group of lions creates a pride.  Owls form a parliament. But what do you call a gathering of pharmacists? That was, unfortunately, one of the few unanswered questions at the sixth annual gathering of Ashtons pharmacists.  Suggestions would be more than welcome!

Our pharmacists spend their working lives apart in different parts of the country.  Which makes our annual gathering incredibly useful from a social and professional perspective.

Professionally, there was training, idea-swapping and experience-sharing on subjects ranging from ‘Covert Medication’ and ‘Refeeding Syndrome’ to ‘Unlicensed & Off-Label Prescribing’. Socially, there was a lot of fun to be had by all.  In particular, a personal trainer put everyone through an unforgettable workout that left them gasping for air!

The theme throughout the two days was ‘Putting Quality First’.  Quality sits at the very heart of everything we strive to do at Ashtons (including the Christmas Party!), and it was the very first consideration in choosing our three keynote speakers.

Quality sits at the very heart of everything we do at Ashtons.

Our pharmacists together at our sixth annual Pharmacist Conference. © Ashtons Hospital Pharmacy Services 2015

Keynote speakers

First up was Professor Peter Haddad, a consultant in community psychiatry in Salford and an Honorary Reader at the University of Manchester. Peter is a member of the Guideline Development Groups for the NICE 2006 bipolar guideline and the NICE 2009 medicines adherence guideline. He gave an extremely informative presentation on Metabolic Syndrome associated with anti-psychotic treatment in schizophrenia.

We were also delighted to welcome Alison Westman, a Consultant Psychiatrist currently working in an inpatient CAMHS low secure and brain injury service in Northampton. Alison has extensive experience, having worked in CAMHS for 25 years, and provided an insightful presentation on some key CAMHS case studies.

Our third keynote speaker, discussing the subject of Lurasidone, was Marco Lyons, a renowned expert pharmacist, currently working in the medical department of Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Europe as the Medical Science Liaison. Marco worked as a pharmacist at South London and Maudsley NHS Trust for 5 years, covering a range of specialities, as well as working in the national medicines information department.

All three speeches were informative, well presented and demonstrated quality with a capital Q!

Ashtons Live View System

Our guests set the bar high, and would be a tough act to follow. Fortunately, our Live View System really is something to get excited about.  It has transformed the working lives of many of our hospital clients.  To cut a long story short, it is an electronic reporting system with a simple aim: for our clients to become more efficient, effective and compliant.

The session during the conference brought the team up to date with a number of new enhancements to the system.

We also shared some outstanding facts.  First and foremost was the aggregate error rate in hospitals.  Over the last year, this had reduced by an amazing 18% in hospitals that use ‘Live View’.  This certainly turned a few heads, and on our pharmacists’ advice, we will release more results in a blog piece sometime soon.

Over the last year Ashtons Live View has reduced the aggregate error rate in hospitals by an amazing 18%

Sharing experience amongst colleagues

To support the external training, sharing expertise amongst our own pharmacists is also a crucial part of the conference. Every year we include a series of presentations, each delivered by one of the pharmacist team in one of their particular areas of expertise.

This year included presentations covering a variety of subjects, including ‘Covert Medication’ by Shehzad Azam, ‘Refeeding Syndrome’ by Tomasz Wojcik, ‘Unlicensed & Off-Label Prescribing’ by Matthew Roberts and some interesting case presentations by John Baylis. All of these presentations were extremely insightful and really helped to underline how sharing expertise in this way amongst a pharmacist team can help build both strong team spirit and outstanding clinical understanding.


It was a terrific two days.  We left feeling invigorated and excited about returning to our day jobs.  Here’s to our 7th conference in 2016!


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