Why visible leadership matters

During LGBTQ+ history month, two deputy chief pharmacists tell us what visible leadership means to them

Rajiv Pandya, Deputy Chief Pharmacist Dudley & Walsall MH Trust

For me, leadership is about being able to be authentic and to allow my personality to be intrinsic to my leadership style. As a professional, feeling able to show the whole of my identity hasn’t always been easy and I have often struggled in terms of whether to be open about being a gay man in the workplace.  I’ve worked in a whole plethora of teams within the NHS and I found that how comfortable I felt about being open about my sexuality differed significantly depending on the organisation I worked in.

One of my most significant negative interactions was when working as a pharmacist visiting a GP surgery to support with their medicines optimisation work streams.

I remember the homophobic conversations in the room which made me feel uncomfortable and I remember almost feeling that I had recoiled into a shell of who I truly was. I remember feeling physically uncomfortable, which impacted on my interactions with the staff and my focus to carry out the task at hand.

On the other hand, the culture within my current organisation is very different. A culture of openness and equality and diversity is high up on the trust’s agenda.

I feel I am able to be my authentic self, which I believe brings richness to my leadership and helps me to establish meaningful professional relationships based on trust and mutual understanding.  Ultimately, I feel I work more effectively in my role which benefits my team and leads to better patient care. I feel empowered within my organisation and I have also taken on the role as chair of the trust’s LGBTQ+ committee, which comes at an exciting time as we begin to prepare our plans for Birmingham Pride.

I am likely to be one of many LGBTQ+ people who have had these experiences and this is why I believe visible diversity and inclusion within leadership is so important. We need more visible LGBTQ+ role models to ensure our workforce feels empowered and enabled to shine as their authentic selves as it will lead to increased confidence, motivation and ultimately positively impact the quality of care we provide to our patients.




Sam Malton, Deputy Chief Pharmacist, University Hospitals Derby & Burton

I work in a teaching hospital. I am also gay. I also have type 1 diabetes. I’ve also struggled with my mental health. Sounds a lot? Perhaps, but there’s not much I can do to change any of it. Instead I accept the challenges and do not allow them to hold me back.

I’ve had a varied and interesting career to date and leadership has been at the heart of it. I’ve watched leaders and their styles over the years and this has helped to develop my own leadership.  Interacting with leaders of other professions, with whom I work closely has also taught me a lot.

I can honestly say that being gay has never affected my career. My sexuality has always been accepted, from being a student, up to the present day. I was worried at university about the demographic of my peers being different to mine, but I was lucky to have a large and diverse friendship group. I’ve watched gay leaders in pharmacy with respect and really feel that sexuality has been a non-issue in my career.

In 2016 I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes out of the blue. This led to a very difficult episode of anxiety and depression, having lived with anxiety all of my life. I felt like my career was over and could not imagine ever leaving the comfort of my role at the time. I knew that I wanted to be a leader and develop further – but could not see how I could ever do that.

Thanks to support from various leaders, I was able to get back to normal over a few months. I began to develop my leadership again and thanks to visible and honest leaders who showed interest in me, I took the next step in my career.

In all this I learned a valuable lesson that leaders are not perfect. They are human and have the same individual challenges as everyone else. I was surprised to learn how many leaders struggle with anxiety. It’s taught me that with the right mind set anything is possible. As a leader I can be confident and anxious at the same time. I can do my job and not worry about hypos, so long as I have sweets in my pocket. I can openly talk about my male fiancé and not be judged. I feel privileged to be in this position and to have had the same chances as everyone else.

Find out more about our work on Inclusion and Diversity

Women in leadership: believe and achieve!

by Amandeep Doll, RPS Regional Liaison Pharmacist

This year I am delighted to be co-chairing our Women in Leadership event on 3rd October 2019 with the RPS President Sandra Gidley.  We had an incredible response to our event last year and want this year to be even bigger and better!

Believe and Achieve

The theme of this years event is Believe and Achieve. The day is full of practical advice and workshops to help you believe in yourself, celebrate your successes and be comfortable with your ambition. We have sessions with Clare Howard and Frances Akor who are current leaders; they will be sharing who their role models are and what values they believe you need to be successful.

Women are often negatively labelled according to their personality traits such as ‘too aggressive’ when they’ve demonstrated confidence in their roles, and others have included ‘too serious’, ‘too questioning,’ ‘too emotional’ and ‘too caring’.

You’ll learn how to achieve your next leadership role by challenging these stereotypes, as well as getting practical advice on how to overcome difficulties, increase your resilience and craft a winning CV.  We have workshops by Harpreet Chana and Heather Fraser from IBM on increasing your confidence and position yourself to get that leadership post.

To embrace the diversity of experiences and beliefs that women bring to leadership teams we also have a men as allies session, to celebrate the differences between men and women and how we can work together to be a successful team.

You’ll leave the event feeling more confident to apply for and take on leadership roles and also to support female colleagues to take those steps to becoming a great leader. 

Come and take part in our Women in Leadership event on 3rd October.

Heads down or heads up?

by Nicola Gray, RPS Regional Liaison Pharmacist

One of the privileges of being a Regional Liaison Pharmacist for RPS is having the opportunity to go and speak to pharmacists working across different sectors of care about their current work and their aspirations.

One common theme across all sectors for me has been the difficulty so many of us have in imagining a different practice scenario to the one we currently work in. The very real and constant pressure of daily work means that pharmacists often have to concentrate on traditional tasks to meet the needs of an increasing – and more complex – patient caseload. It might be the community pharmacist chasing yet another medicine in short supply; the chief pharmacist considering how to cover their on-call responsibilities; the academic pharmacist running the same lab 5 times to accommodate student numbers; or the GP practice pharmacist team leader covering several practices themselves because of the churn in their team. The common feature is ceaseless demand, which restricts our capacity to think and act strategically and to connect with the wider system.

Tied to the wheel

I’ve come to call it the ‘heads down’ phenomenon, but another pharmacist recently described it to me as being like ‘hamsters on wheels’. Those of us who are not caught in this cycle might become frustrated by a disappointing pharmacist response to funded offers of training, or worry that opportunities for strategic development will be missed because system leaders do not see demands from the profession for their ‘place at the table’. I believe that the ‘heads down’ phenomenon gives us a very reasonable explanation for why this might be – and a way to consider what we really have to do to facilitate change.

Looking up

Each of the four Regional Liaison Pharmacists has many stories of the innovators and local and national pharmacy leaders who are determined to look beyond the daily grind. For example, I attended the Greater Manchester Pharmacy LPN conference in the summer and awards were given there to pharmacists, pharmacy teams and multidisciplinary initiatives to celebrate solid innovation rooted in the needs of local populations. These awards showcased pharmacy-led improvements in patient safety and equitable access to services, which need acknowledging in a national healthcare system where both seem to be an increasing daily challenge.

Becoming part of a movement

The future of pharmacy has to be a system-wide movement united by a common cause and guided by shared values. Where I live in Greater Manchester, a recent meeting about workforce strategy – involving representatives from all patient-facing sectors – showed strong consensus around moves to affirm our shared identity there and use it as a basis to market pharmacy to patients, the public and other professions. This isn’t window dressing – it is fundamental to creating an effective movement.

As a representative of pharmacists in different roles in my past, and in the role that I perform for RPS now, my greatest nightmare is that promises will be made to local system leaders about pharmacy without the certainty that everyone else is committed to that cause. Conversely, the critical mass of pharmacists needed to give that support can only be created if they too feel part of a movement that is not just about another plan, or pilot, but that has the capacity to actually get us from where we are to where we really want to be.

In order to encourage more pharmacists to raise their heads, they will have to start to see small but meaningful positive changes in their daily work. Nothing less will do. This may be facilitated by shifts in commissioning to align incentives for pharmacists with value for patients. It may also be linked to better retention of pharmacists in localities and roles so that the work becomes more proactive than reactive. This will promote trusting personal relationships between pharmacists working in different sectors and with the wider healthcare team. The right approach will be decided at an increasingly local level, but support for these ‘local pharmacy movements’ from RPS and other national bodies and employers will help to sustain pharmacy leaders, and raise more heads up.

Why should you attend the ‘Women in Leadership: Survive and Thrive’?

by Emma Davies, Advanced Pharmacist Practitioner and Research Fellow at Swansea University.

Women form the majority of the pharmacy workforce and yet, are still under-represented in senior roles across all sectors. This Women in Leadership event is looking to explore some of the issues faced by women working in healthcare and how we can work together to overcome them.

My contribution

I am looking to share my experience of workplace bullying and how I have tried to turn negative experiences into motivation to succeed. I am hoping that by being open about what I have faced, it will encourage people who may be going through a similar experience to know that it doesn’t have to continue or prevent them from realising their potential. I am looking forward to hearing from attendees about how they might have dealt with similar experiences and what I can learn from that to strengthen my future and those I support.  Read more Why should you attend the ‘Women in Leadership: Survive and Thrive’?

The inspiring women of pharmacy

060

International Women’s day celebrates the milestone achievements and the history of women, spreading awareness about their social, economic, cultural and political achievements, it also encourages a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

To mark this day, we chat to Hannah Batchelor, BSc, PhD, Director of Research for Pharmacy at the University of Birmingham about her current role, challenges and successes as a female in her profession and more importantly how to #BeBoldForChange. Read more The inspiring women of pharmacy

Identifying Leadership to help build your Faculty portfolio

Susan Ibrahim editedby Susan Youssef MFRPSII MRPharmS

Leadership inspires pharmacists and their teams to achieve high standards of performance and personal development. The Faculty leadership cluster ties into this by allowing you to record the many instances where leadership has been applied successfully as a pharmacist. Initially the way I approached the leadership cluster was by referring to the framework competencies and comparing these to my CPD records and my CV, I then selected suitable examples which I could use for the leadership cluster. Read more Identifying Leadership to help build your Faculty portfolio

Why your voice is needed for Health and Social Care integration

Aileen Bryson - Practice & Policy LeadBy Aileen Bryson MRPharmS, Scottish Practice and Policy Lead

Understanding prescribing budgets, the importance of medicines in modern healthcare and promoting health and wellbeing are just some of the challenges facing Health and Social Care Partnerships in the new integrated health and social care landscape. Read more Why your voice is needed for Health and Social Care integration

Interview with Sandra Melville, previous Chair and departing Scottish Board Member

Sandra MelvilleSandra Melville MSc, FRPharmS, FFRPS joined the Scottish Pharmacy Board in 2007, becoming Chair in 2008. During her time on the board, Sandra witnessed seismic changes to Scottish pharmacy, including the creation of the devolved Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Scotland and the introduction of Prescription of Excellence. Last month she supported RPS Scotland by giving evidence on Seven Day Services at the Health and Sport committee. Our director, Alex MacKinnon, interviews Sandra as she leaves the board to continue her work in hospital pharmacy in Oban. Read more Interview with Sandra Melville, previous Chair and departing Scottish Board Member

From idea to practice at the RPS Annual Conference

Terry blog

by Dr Terry Maguire, Honorary RPS Member, Owner Maguire Pharmacy, Belfast, and stream chair at the RPS Annual Conference 2015

Everyone has great ideas. Problems and frustrations stimulate us to come up with innovative solutions and better ways of doing things and it is generally the ideas of practitioners – those working at the coal face and who really understand the systems – which are more likely to be effective solutions. Read more From idea to practice at the RPS Annual Conference

Enhancing Patient Care through Research at the RPS Annual Conference

Bryonyby Professor Bryony Dean Franklin FRPharmS FFRPS, Director of the Centre for Medication Safety and Service Quality (CMSSQ) and stream chair for the RPS Annual Conference 2015

“Research and evaluation? What’s that got do with me?” Well – potentially quite a lot! If you want to improve the services that you provide, either by interpreting and applying the existing evidence or by conducting your own evaluations, then you will want to understand the principles of the research process. Read more Enhancing Patient Care through Research at the RPS Annual Conference