At HUC, we believe in providing the best quality of care for our patient communities and our team of pharmacists contribute to this enormously. Icha Chandrasekharan, our Lead Pharmacist, tells us about her role in the organisation, ensuring good practice procedures from an integrated urgent care perspective.

Icha has been with HUC for almost 6 years now. Outside of HUC, she also works as Clinical Pharmacist at a GP Practice. This is because she enjoys a patient facing role as much as her advisory position here at HUC. “It’s a good balance for me – both my roles complement each other, and I can apply my experience and qualification from what I learn in two places,” she says.

“Back when I joined, the organisation had 5-6 pharmacists who were working on the NHS 111 side and I was appointed to audit their work. The numbers have since increased with our growth and the role has evolved. We now have close to 30-35 pharmacists,” she says proudly.

“I work in an advisory role at HUC looking into pharmacy matters, medicines management and lead on quite a few things,” she states, going on to explain some of the details of what she does. “When our cars go out to visit patients or in our bases where we actually see patients, we hold a stock of medicines that we need for emergency treatment. My role is to ensure, working with our Medicines Management teams, that we have the essential medicines should pharmacies be closed and that the processes around them – so stocking them safely, keeping proper records of medication to patients, handling of prescriptions –  are all up to a high standard,” she elaborates. “I also work very closely with the operational team, for example providing training to the drivers, the base coordinators, the reception staff on all how medicines should be handled, the safety protocols, making sure they don’t put themselves or the doctors at risk.”

“We also have controlled drugs as they are used for end-of-life care, which we need to have licenses from Home Office. My role as a Controlled Drugs Lead is to give assurance to the Home Office on who has access to these, are our premises secure, and do we have the right processes in place, which is all covered in the procedures and policies around controlled drugs,” she explains.

Icha also supports our clinical colleagues across the organisation with pharmacological advice, including all our nurses, paramedics, and GPs who handle medication queries, repeat medications or give different levels of health and home management advice for patients. Icha closely follows the MHRA alerts (medicines and health care regulatory agency) that have updates and best practices around medicines, which she send to colleagues if the need arises.

Our pharmacy colleagues in the organisation are also regularly supported by Icha. They undertake additional training to work in an IUC role. HUC has also been supportive to those who require a prescribing qualification, and our IUC pharmacists only prescribe remotely.

A number of pharmacy technicians support the medicines management teams who are responsible for ordering and distributing medicines and prescriptions to all our Out of Hours bases and visiting cars. These colleagues also assist with medicine audits and investigations of medicine related incidents.

Icha enjoys being able to work closely with other teams. “I know colleagues find my advice helpful when share my expertise as a pharmacist and it’s interesting for me to learn from them the practical aspects of doing things. We are all working towards the same goal of improving patient experience.”

COVID has been a testing time in her career she says, but is very proud of her contribution to patient care. “The medicines management team and our frontline clinical and operational colleagues stepped up massively to the whole new process and requirement of the situation. We added more medicines to our current formulary and the way our medicines management team got it incorporated in every base despite the workload they already had was outstanding,” she recalls.

About HUC, she says, “I love the fact that we are very forward-looking, keen on improving ourselves and always taking up new challenges. We like to adopt new ways of doing things and we’re quite innovative in what we do.”

“Over the last five-six years, HUC has changed a lot and I really think it’s a great place to work. I would recommend others to join HUC as I’ve learned a lot staying here,” she signs off.