The President’s Blog June 2017

This is my last blog as President of GHP as my two years come to the end this week.  The two years have gone unbelievably fast and apart for the initial anxiety when approached by the press for comment, I have enjoyed it immensely. There have been many highlights but I think the one that will remain with me the most was the interest and admiration shown by the board of the American Association of Hospital Pharmacists on our role as independent prescribers.  I have also learnt things that I would never have done outside the role, I know an awful lot about biosimilars that I did two years ago.

However, back to May and the less glamorous surroundings of the ExCel and the Clinical Pharmacy Congress.  The CPC has become one of the highlights of my year as it’s a great opportunity to meet pharmacists from all over the country in all sorts of roles (I am also alarmed at the ever increasing number of pharmacists who come up to me to say Hi and did I remember them as a pre-registration pharmacist or student on rotation, have I really trained that many?).  The stand was incredibly busy, particularly on the Friday with most enquiries being about liability cover.  There were a large number of Pharmacy Technicians enquiring about membership of Unite and we hope that with the guidance of our regional officer, Kevin McAdam, we will be able to increase their support within Unite.

On the day before the CPC we held our council meeting and once again there was a focus on Pharmacy Technicians as Tess Fenn, President of APTUK, came to join us to discuss many of the issues relating to technicians and their development.  This had been instigated by GHP due to concerns that Pre-Registration Pharmacy Technicians are now being recruited via the apprentice schemes in many trusts and how this could be a barrier to good candidates coming forward.  We have no solutions but keep an eye out for what is happening in your trusts.

I was once again one of the delegates to the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists General Assembly. This year it was held in Malta.  It was very hot but your delegates kept in the cool of the conference room.  One of the main areas of discussion was the implementation of the EAHP Statements on Hospital Pharmacy.  These statements are very important to the Eastern Bloc countries who are forging ahead to bring their pharmacy services on a par with the Western countries.  However, dealing with shortages and how to implement the Falsified Medicines Directive is an issue for the whole of Europe.  At the end of the Assembly on behalf of GHP I offered to host the 2019 GA in the U.K. This will be in Edinburgh and was a hugely popular choice with the delegates.

On my return from Malta I heard of the sad and untimely death of Professor Peter Noyce. Peter was the District Pharmacist at Northwick Park when I was a basic grade pharmacist and he was an exciting and innovating boss.  In recent years our paths had started crossing again as he had taken on the Chair of the Board of Trustees for Pharmacy Voice.  I invited him to talk at last September’s Guild Council meeting and he clearly put the same passion into his role as he had into every other role he had taken on during his career.  He will be sadly missed by the profession.

One of my last duties as President has been to ring up and offer the Guild medal awards to the nominated recipients.  I am delighted to announce that the winner of the Guild Gold Medal is David Miller, Chief Pharmacist at City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and a former Guild President.  I am equally delighted to announce the winner of the Guild Silver Medal is Richard Hey, Director of Pharmacy at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Trust.  Dave and Richard will receive their medals at the UCKPA Conference dinner in November.

So, my time here is nearly done.  I don’t drop off the stage completely as the Immediate Past President looks after the International portfolio of GHP and I will clearly be busy over the next two years helping to organise the EAHP General Assembly.  I will leave you in the capable hand of Graeme Richardson who has been an enormous support to meover the past two years.  As I work in a mental health trust it has been invaluable having Graeme, who is Chief Pharmacist at South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, by my side and we have become quite a team.

I have already made a list of all the jobs my husband has to do and now I will have the time to supervise.  I should at this point say what a wonderful support my husband, Geof Lay, has been, not just over the past two years, but since I joined Guild Council in 2001 when our children, Elizabeth and William, were still quite young.


Vilma Gilis

June 2017


The President’s Blog April 2017

This is my first blog since the end of December. This is not because there hasn’t been any news but because there are always times when the day job has to take precedence. For me, this has been mainly taken up with a visit from the CQC and the wonderful news that out trust was rated good. You will all be aware that the CQC is changing the way in which it will inspect trusts in the future so these incredibly tense and stressful weeks should be no more.

Another change which will affect the pharmacy professions is the proposed changes in revalidation from the General Pharmaceutical Council. This is a major change and it is important that the GPhC hears everyone’s view. The Guild will respond to the consultation so do feed your thoughts and comments in to us and/or respond yourself. The consultation can be found at

There has been much discussion about the GPhC consultation on religion, personal values and beliefs in pharmacy practice. The Guild submitted a response supporting the recommendations and that all members of the public should have access to a service which they require. In hospital practice this is possibly easier to achieve as there are other team members who may be able to step up and take over if a member of staff is unable to take on a task due to religious or ethical beliefs.

The NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans continue to evolve. As I have said in previous blogs, it is important that you keep up to date with what is happening in your area so that you can comment on any proposed services whilst still in a draft form.

The STP plans affect England but we are aware that changes can affect the four home nations too, which is why out national members for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are so important. I am pleased to say that after being vacant for a few years we once again have a National member for Wales joining Guild council. Brian Eadon works as a formulary pharmacist based in the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, we are delighted that he is joining the team. However, for the next couple of months Brian is working in Lesotho for the Wales for Africa project, you can follow his progress via his blog

On April 5th I joined a number of pharmacist and technicians from around England at a meeting hosted by CPPE to look at the CPPE Leadership Programme. This is an important area of work. The Guild has long believed that good leadership is the key to maintaining and developing pharmacy services. It was good to work alongside pharmacy technicians who have a vision of developing alongside pharmacists and taking on many of the managerial and leadership roles in the modern pharmacy department.

Graeme Richardson, Ewan Maule and Wasim Baqir took themselves and lots of information to the BPSA conference at the beginning of April. The challenges facing our pharmacy undergraduates and pre-registration pharmacists are different to when I was in that position. It was sad to hear from Pharmacist Support that many of their calls are from pre-registration pharmacists. Two Guild Members have gone to great lengths to raise money for Pharmacist Support. Kathryn Murray (an ex Guild Council Member) from Cardiff did a tandem parachute jump and Aamer Safdar ran the London Marathon. My huge congratulations and admiration go to them both of them.

As in previous years we will be attending the Clinical Pharmacy Congress at the ExCel London on May 12th and 13th. Do come along and say hello to us and ask any questions you might have. It is lovely meeting our members. We are at stand G7.

Vilma Gilis
April 2017


The President’s Blog December 2016

Whilst my blog is only covering two months it has been another busy period for the Guild. On November 4th and 5th the UKCPA held their conference in Manchester and the Guild was there to support the event. We were able to meet many members and potential members at our stand and we ran two of the sessions.

On Friday morning Roisin O’Hare, our Education and Development Lead and Wasim Baqir, our Communications Lead took us through a form of speed-dating where we pitched our research and development ideas to members of the group. It was enormous fun and fired a lot of enthusiasm. Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, National Officer for Health for Unite and Ursula Gotel, one of our Terms and Conditions Leads led a session on Flexible Working, Pay and Pensions. It is never too early to think about your pension, even if it seems a long way off now.
On the Friday dinner I was able to present Guild awards. Ron Pate received his Honorary Vice- Presidents bar, Colin Rodden received the Guild Silver Award and Alison Beaney received the Guild Gold Award. It was a great honour for me to present these awards to such deserving recipients. It was also a great honour to see Ann Page present UKCPA lifetime achievement awards to Mike Scott and Duncan McRobbie.

If you would like to nominate someone for a Guild Award please do so through your Regional Member. The Guild Silver Award is made to a pharmacist who has made an outstanding contribution to the practice or politics of pharmacy at a regional level and the Guild Gold Award is made to a pharmacist who has made an outstanding contribution to the practice or politics of pharmacy at a national level.
On November 10th the Procurement and Distribution Interest Group ran another successful one day conference in Birmingham and a number of Guild Council members also attended the Pharmacy Management Conference in London the following week.

It is always a pleasure to meet our membership and to keep in touch and hopefully we will be able to do more of this next year.

The Sustainability and Transformation Plans will be being discussed in your region. It is important that you find out what is going on both at a regional and national level. Do go to the Unite Health Sector part of the Unite website to keep in touch and look out for what is happening locally.
I was able to attend the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s launch of the new standards for reporting, sharing, learning, taking action and review of incidents. This is an important piece of work which will support the culture of openness that is needed within the profession.
I was once again able to attend the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists Mid-Year Conference which was held in Las Vegas. The size of the conference (over 20,000 delegates) and the spectacle that is Las Vegas was overwhelming but talking to enthusiastic young pharmacists about their work is the same whichever continent you are on.

On the Monday of the conference there is a session called International Pearls (there are a lot of Pearls Sessions) and I was proud to support two British Pharmacists who were presenting their work. Alastair Gray presented his Refer to pharmacy project and Raliat Onatade presented work done on setting up a liaison psychiatry pharmacist when she was working at King’s College Hospital. Both these presentations were focussed on providing the best patient care and I was very proud to be in the audience.

I also attended a meeting with the ASHP Board and the leaders of other hospital pharmacy organisations. Everyone was interested to hear about pharmacist prescribers and it is clear that many are envious of this role. We should be supporting our young pharmacists in obtaining the
qualification and GHP will be looking at how job specifications should be amended to support the role in the New Year.

Whilst many of you would have returned from a trip to the States to put your feet up I came back and sang in my choir’s Christmas Concert the next day and had a Guild Council meeting the following Tuesday. However, sharing the work that we do on Guild Council is always invigorating. We have considered 74 consultations this year and responded to 43.
We also discussed our communications survey and we will be looking at new ways to communicate with you in the next year.

Our Northern Ireland representative, Kathy Stevenson, is retiring and her place is to be taken by Katherine Devlin. We wish Kathy well and look forward to welcoming Katherine. We are still looking for Regional Members for Wales and the South East; if you would be interested in getting involved please contact me (details below).

On behalf of Guild Council may I wish you a happy and successful 2017.

Vilma Gilis December 2016

The President’s Blog. October 2016

My blog begins in August, which is generally a quiet month for GHP activity as we settle in with new pre-registration pharmacists, new pharmacists and new junior doctors.  We do however continue to have queries and many of these are from pharmacists about to start working in GP practices about obtaining professional indemnity. Membership of the union entitles members to advice and support in workplace matters including grievances, disciplinary procedures and employment tribunals. Membership of the union also entitles members who are statutorily registered health professionals to support and advice if investigated by a regulatory body and also the support of the union’s lawyers should a case go to a hearing. Contingent Medical Malpractice (CMM) is there in case a member should, for example, be sued by a patient or client for malpractice. CMM depends on the employer having primary cover which all NHS organisations will have. Anyone working directly for a GP Practice would not be covered as GPs do not have primary cover but usually have individual liability arrangements.  We are therefore advising pharmacists directly employed by GPs that CMM would not be appropriate.  However, if they are employed by an NHS organisation to provide the services to the GP surgery then they would be covered. The underwriters of the CMM do not make any differentiation with respect to job roles as long as the tasks that are taken out are in the individual’s job description.  For example, there is not added premium for independent prescribers. The CMM will not provide legal cover for criminal acts but we have confirmed that they would support a pharmacist who was being prosecuted for a dispensing error.

For many years we have used the website but this has now become old and would need a lot of investment to upgrade it.  We have therefore moved temporarily to another website until we can move our content into the Unite website.  Bear with us during the transition and follow us on Twitter to keep up to date with our activities.

I was able to attend the Royal Pharmaceutical Society conference in Birmingham at the beginning of September and enjoyed the programme and meeting up with old friends immensely.  I was particularly proud that former GHP President Tony West received the RPS Lifetime Achievement award.  Much of the discussion at the conference was about the new contract for community pharmacy and its effect on the future of many independent pharmacies.  GHP gave evidence to the Department of Health in February on this and will continue monitor the situation.  Rahul Singal launched the Department of Health report on seven day services for hospital pharmacy GHP has always supported the development of seven day services provided that there are appropriate resources to allow it to happen without detriment to the weekday service or the staff.  When attending conferences I am always pleased to see the practice research posters.  We need, more than ever, published research to support and justify our practice.

Straight after the RPS conference I managed to fit in a very enjoyable trip to the Netherlands with my choir but it was straight back to Guild matters on return. Graeme Richardson, Vice President; Kevin McAdam and Gavin Fergie from Unite and I met with members of the Procurement and Distribution Interest Group to discuss how we could support their very successful day conferences in the future

GHP NOPC was held on September 27th and we welcomed a new regional member, Alison Smith, who will be representing the West Midlands.  Alison is an active GHP/Unite in Worcester and sits on the Regional Industrial Sector Committee.  I am sure that Alison will be a great asset to the Guild and will be in contact with West Midlands members shortly.  We were joined by Peter Noyce and Diane Leicester from Pharmacist Support who gave a presentation on the work of the organisation.  There are many overlaps between the work of our organisations and we have agreed that we need to make sure that anyone seeking advice is signposted to the correct organisation.  If you are able to support the work of Pharmacist Support by making a donation then please do so.

I also met up again with Diane and Peter on October 18th at the GPhC’s professionalism Under Pressure seminar.  It was interesting to talk to pharmacists and pharmacy technicians from all sectors and at different points in their career path about the increased pressures that are being felt.  Staff surveys have shown that decreased stress leads to increased engagement and quality improvement plus the inevitable decrease in sickness.  Sadly, Pharmacy Support is receiving increased numbers of calls from pre-registration pharmacists. At the end of my last blog I finished with the good news of a high pass rate for the pre-registration examinations so it is disappointing that there was only a 41% pass rate following the September examination.  I am sure that the GPhC and training providers will be reflecting on what has gone wrong here.

As ever, we have been busy responding to consultations on your behalf. In the past three months we have submitted responses to the EMA on Good Pharmacovigilance Practices; NHS England on Managing Conflicts of Interest in the NHS; to the MHRA on Risk appropriate approached to clinical trials; the Scottish Government on Out of hospital urgent care to name a few.  We often put out a Twitter request for comments and views so do follow us and respond if you have views that you would like to share.  One area where we feel we are unable to respond to consultations at present is anything related to Wales.  We have not had a Welsh regional member for some time and we may therefore be missing out on the opportunity to support our Welsh members.  If you work in Wales and think you may be able to take on this role please contact me for further information or discussion.

Along with Graeme, Roisin O’Hare, Education and Development Lead and Wasim Baqir, Communications Lead we met with Catherine Duggan and Beth Ward  at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to discuss mutual areas of interest and concern.  Catherine and Beth were able to present their Roadmap for Advance Practitioners.  The enthusiasm for our profession and professional development on both sides was excellent and we hope we will be able to work together to take the profession ever forward.

Hopefully I will be able to meet many members at our stand at the UKCPA Conference on Friday.

Vilma Gilis

October 2016