National Pharmacist Day is celebrated each year on 12 January, it gives us the chance to spotlight the incredible work that our Pharmacy team does behind the scenes to keep our patients safe.

At BSMHFT our Pharmacy team is responsible for all aspects of medication management. They help us to ensure continuity of care, delivering an effective supply of prescribed medications to service users and patients across our sites. 

We have around 80 pharmacy staff, each with a myriad of reasons for entering the profession. 

Today we are sharing why Nigel Barnes, Richard Harris, Sarena Sandhu, Victoria Webster and Katayoun Sarizadeh joined the profession and what makes this day so special for them. Here’s what they said…

“I am fortunate to work with some great pharmacy teams in BSMHFT who work extremely hard, often behind the scenes and unnoticed to ensure that our patients receive the medicines they need and clinical staff receive good advice on medicines. National Pharmacist Day gives us a chance to recognise their input into helping patients with mental health problems and their medicines.” – Nigel Barnes, Chief Pharmacist.

“Working for BSMHFT as a pharmacist has allowed me the opportunity to contribute to patient care in so many positive ways from ensuring medication is safe and suitable for patients to take, that they can access their medication and medication advice readily when needed and to work with the nursing and medical team in a shared collaborative and rewarding way, helping improve the patient experience and optimising treatment outcomes.” – Richard Harris MRPharmS, Joint Lead Clinical Pharmacist for Specialities, Frailty and Dementia.

“Working in mental health pharmacy is not only exciting and rewarding but also profoundly meaningful. As a pharmacist in this field, you contribute to the wellbeing of individuals by providing crucial support for mental health treatments. 

“Your role extends beyond dispensing medications – you play a vital part in enhancing the quality of life for those facing mental health challenges. The unique opportunity to make a positive difference in people’s lives, coupled with the ongoing advancements in mental health care, makes a career in mental health pharmacy both fulfilling and encouraging.” – Katayoun Sarizadeh, Lead Clinical Psychiatric Pharmacist – Steps to Recovery and Assertive Outreach.

“I chose to study pharmacy at university as from a young age I always had an interest in medications. I remember when I was younger I would always open and read the patient information leaflet inside medication boxes. After I qualified as a pharmacist, I worked in acute hospitals for about four years before I decided to take the plunge and join mental health and since then I have never looked back. I love the variety that pharmacy brings every day, no two days are ever the same and we can really help make a difference to the care that patients receive.

A bonus of working in pharmacy is the great team that is available for support and to bounce ideas off each other. I am grateful that I get to work with such a lovely team of people in pharmacy and everyone always tries to help each other out.” – Sarena Sandhu. 

“When I left school at 16, I worked as a GP Receptionist in primary care. I was curious about the repeat prescription service and what medications were prescribed for. When I saw a regional student position for Pharmacy Technician trainee, I thought this would be an ideal career to take and haven’t looked back. I now manage a team of 18 staff in HMP Birmingham Pharmacy.

Being a Pharmacy Technician in my opinion means providing a high level of service and standard of care to my patients in relation not only to supplies of medications but also in improving their overall health and wellbeing. Health promotion is very important.

In the prison service this also means effective communication and collaborative working with multiple stakeholders and governing bodies. I take a leadership role in medication management, providing education and training within the prison, helping to drive and maintain the standards set out by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and NHS England.

“No one day is ever the same and the challenges never ceases to amaze me, but this is also the most rewarding part of my role by being able to find and implement solutions.” – Vicky Webster, HMP Birmingham Operational Lead.