Georgia Bewsey, Regional Medicines Manager for Hertfordshire, West Essex and Luton and Bedfordshire and Dawn Dennison, Pharmacy Technician for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough help us understand more about the role of medicine management in the organisation.

High quality patient care is at the heart of everything we do and our medicines management processes are no exception. Across the organisation, there are three dedicated teams managing our medicines, who work locally and strategically across HUC. We spoke to two key colleagues looking after our local teams: Dawn Dennison, a pharmacy technician who works closely with IUC Clinical Manager Mary Barrett; and Georgia Bewsey, Regional Medicines Manager, who is responsible for Hertfordshire, West Essex and Luton and Bedfordshire is looked after Georgia Bewsey working with Susannah Winter, our Regional Head of Operations.
Both Dawn and Georgia manage teams of medicine administrators and coordinators. They keep stock of medicines, a detailed process which includes quantities and dates of expiry, a crucial aspect for medicines. They provide medication and consumable products like cotton wads, gloves and plasters for our Out-of-Hours bases – six locations in Cambridge and Peterborough; seven in Hertfordshire, three in West Essex and four in Luton and Bedford.

The team ensure the lifeline bags, defibrillators, nebulizers, emergency kits are in place – this can be an important factor in providing high quality care. And while making sure that over 20 bases and over cars are fully stocked with everything they need is no small feat in itself, the team are also responsible that all drivers and receptionists as well as our clinical colleagues know what to use and when. It can also be a bit of a challenge as many of our bases are co-located with other NHS services and we’re sharing the space. Knowing where equipment is kept is really important for colleagues. In those situations in patient care when every second counts, a fully stocked car or base and fully trained colleagues are absolutely essential.

As a Team Leader, Dawn runs a seven-day service ensuring someone from the team is available, all through the week. That also means there a clear schedule for everyone to follow and live by. The team’s first working day in every week is Sunday. Beci, a base coordinator visits all the locations to monitor the stock used in the previous week and makes a note of what is required. On Mondays, another colleague, Kerry, puts together all the orders taken the previous day then delivers all the orders to the bases by Tuesday. Wednesday is the ordering day of stock to replenish for the next week while Thursdays and Fridays are for other management and administration duties that need attention at the bases. On Saturday, one person from the team is present to cover anything that’s urgently required. The Operations support co-ordinator, Ewelina, works closely with the team, supporting with cover during leave and absence, and the team support Ewelina.

“My role involves coordinating with the various teams and bases to ensure everything runs smoothly – from monitoring deliveries to making sure all the legal requirements are met. There is a lot of coordination and interaction within the team, and also across the various centres,” says Dawn, who joined HUC three years ago.

“We have a communication book in our bases where details are recorded, of any issues base staff have and things that the team need to make base staff aware of so that everyone is aware of what has been actioned and what needs attention. Shift reports are an important part of Communication as well, as it’s crucial for the service. Using the shift report is how we manage our priorities, especially when some colleagues are working on different days or part-time,” she says.

Agreeing with Dawn, Georgia highlights an additional part of her job is looking at the procurement side and helping the company save money. “Negotiating with suppliers and making sure we are getting the best price and that we’re not over-paying or over-ordering is a significant aspect of my job,” says Georgia.

She also emphasises on the contribution of her team. “Sophia Woollam, Claire Bonner, Zoe Watts and Karen Salisbury are all doing incredible jobs making sure all the bases are supplied with drugs and consumables,” she adds.

Skills required for medicines management

If you’re interested in working in medicines management, broadly, there are two profiles for medicine management — Administrator or a Base Coordinator. For both, you need to be able to work on your own initiative but follow processes and procedures. Flexibility and being supportive to the rest of the team is key.

Explaining further, Dawn says, “For a Pharmacy Technician role, you have to be a registered and qualified person, while for the Base Coordinator and the Medicines Management Administrator, which do the day-to-day delivery and stock counts, you must have good communication skills, be hands-on and practical.”

“My advice to someone joining would be — it’s a lovely team and the role takes you out of the office — you are out and about. You’re going to be out on your own a lot and must be able to drive. It’s a huge responsibility to deliver medicines safely, and to make sure that they are safe to use, well within the expiry date and the equipment and consumable products too are of good quality and standard,” says Dawn.

While for Georgia, a lot of the learning has been on-the-job. “There are a lot mandatory things that you need to do as part of the organisation and we encourage everyone to do that in their first few days. But going out and observing someone doing the role, reading the processes, and understanding them, is important,” she says.

Support from the organisation during COVID

The last 15 months have not been easy due to COVID but both Georgia and Dawn look back and say the management team at HUC and the CCG have been extremely supportive and helpful during those times. “We’ve had quite a lot of support in obtaining PPE during desperate times at the start of the pandemic. They have supported us in the decision to have minimised visits to the bases, in order to avoid contact with potential patients and minimize the contact in the bases as well. We try to do some hours from home, however there are some tasks for which we have to be there at the base, so we plan accordingly to have minimum contact,” they both agree.

“It has been a challenging year with COVID but we’re very supportive of each other. We work well as a team and are really proud of our achievements in the last 15 months. Cambridge and Peterborough team have also worked on a training programmes to reinforce the messagess of proper processes and procedures for our Drivers and Receptionists, base staff, new starters, and others who needed training to follow the system. We developed a training programme and started delivering that in March. So far, we trained 30 colleagues and hoping now that we will roll it out to new starters so as soon as they start, we’ll have an induction session with them. We’ve had some positive feedback on that and I’m so very proud of our work this year,” adds Dawn.