HEALTH staff in Somerset picked up a hat-trick of national awards in recognition of the amazing work they are doing to improve care for vulnerable people in our communities.

Anna Alves was crowned as the winner of the Public Health England Antibiotic Awards, Sally Farmer was named as winner of the Covid Hero award at CD Awards (Chemist and Druggist publication) and Kate Jones won GP Pharmacist of the Year, at the PCPA (Prime Care Pharmacy Awards).

Somerset Foundation Trust picked up a prestigious Antibiotic Guardian Award, led by Public Health England recently on behalf of NHS Somerset CCG and GP Practices in Somerset for their work to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

The project lead clinical pharmacist, Ana Alves, who now works at Somerset Foundation Trust, said: “This is a wonderful recognition of collaborative work with GP practices in Somerset and their commitment to continuously review and improve the diagnosis and antibiotic treatment of urinary tract infections in older patients. It shows how evidence - based references, peer comparison and meaningful data can help change culture and behaviour.”

The aim of the project was to achieve a 25 per cent reduction in 12 weeks and 50 per cent in six months in the rate measuring the association between positive urine dipsticks for UTI diagnosis and antibiotic treatment in patients aged 65 and over across GP practices in the county. Within three months the rate in the association between dipsticks and UTI antibiotic prescribing in the patient group was halved.

Elizabeth Beech, MBE | Regional Antimicrobial Stewardship Lead South West Region, NHS England and NHS Improvement said: “This is a fantastic achievement for the NHS in the South West. It has helped reduce antibiotic over-prescribing and helped deliver safer patient care. Getting the diagnosis right reduces inappropriate antibiotic use.”

Somerset County Gazette:

AWARD: Sally Farmer

Sally Farmer, who works at the Day Lewis Pharmacy in Burnham-on-Sea, was named as winner of the ‘COVID hero individual award’ at The Chemist and Druggist Awards after going the extra mile to help patients and the community during the pandemic.

“I won the award because I have performed over 1500 flu vaccinations across Somerset, in schools, for NHS staff and for the homeless. I have vaccinated people in their cars in the car park outside of the pharmacy and visited people in their homes when they had difficulty getting out,” Sally said.

“I have received lovely letters written to head office from my patients describing how I have helped them this year. This included helping patients with mental health issues and helping a lady with an urgent referral, which enabled her to receive a cancer diagnosis and immediate treatment.

"I am also Vice Chair of Somerset LPC and PCN Lead for North Sedgemoor. So I have been able to support all of my local contractors as well, which has been very rewarding.

“I am so honoured to win this award. It makes it all worth it. Every pharmacist and their teams should be so proud of what they have achieved in this really difficult year. My team at Day Lewis Pharmacy Burnham-On-Sea and head office, and Somerset LPC has given me so much support and I couldn't have got through this year without them”

And Kate Jones, lead pharmacist at Symphony Healthcare Services (SHS)was awarded GP Pharmacist of the Year at the Primary Care Pharmacy Association (PCPA) awards in recognition of her leadership, advocacy and commitment in supporting and building her team, and her professionalism, care and support towards her patients who are drug dependent.

Somerset County Gazette:

WINNER: Kate Jones

Helen Belben, Lead Medicines Management Technician at Symphony Healthcare Services says, “As my line manager, Kate provides support, friendship, knowledge and laughter, to help me line manage our pharmacy technicians and prescription clerks”.

“Kate is an independent prescriber and works incredibly hard with patients to reduce opiate use. She tries to build a strong bond with regular patients, meaning they are never afraid to contact her with their concerns or to ask for help. This includes regular phone calls, and prescribing weekly where required.

One lady called Kate her ‘guardian angel’. Another reduced his opiate dose from an extremely high level, and after a long period of unemployment was successful in gaining an engineering role”.

President of the PCPA Awards, Dr Graham Stretch, said: “Kate was chosen to receive the GP Pharmacists of the Year Award 2020 in recognition of her leadership, advocacy and commitment in supporting and building the team, and her professionalism, care and support towards her opiate patients.

“Kate has led the growth of the Symphony Medicines Management team, to its current structure shown in the organizational chart below. She had a vision of a Medicines Management Hub, which is now a reality. Not only does she lead the pharmacists working for SHS, she includes other pharmacists working alone in neighbouring Primary Care Networks PCN practices that would otherwise have no peer support”