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Career spotlight: Senior NHS Pharmacist

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Clare Morrison

What is your role now?
I have a split role, I work two days a week as Lead Pharmacist for North Highland which involves developing primary care pharmacy services and supporting safe, effective and cost-effective prescribing. I also have Highland-wide Lead Pharmacist portfolio roles for dispensing practices, care at home and the Scottish Patient Safety Programme.

For the other three days a week, I am Senior Clinical Quality Lead for NHS Highland which is a quality improvement role rather than specific to pharmacy.

What roles did you do to get to where you are now?

  • Community pharmacist in London
  • Various roles in pharmacy journalism
  • Community pharmacist in Caithness, including completing the independent prescribing training and running a couple of clinics
  • Lead Pharmacist for North Highland, NHS Highland
  • Pharmacist Clinical Lead for the Scottish Patient Safety Programme’s pharmacy in primary care pilot in NHS Highland
  • Scottish Quality and Safety Fellowship
  • Intermountain Healthcare Advanced Training Program in Quality Improvement.

What do you enjoy about your job?
The challenges and the opportunities: every day is different and I am never bored.

But more than anything, what I enjoy most is being part of a fantastic, forward-looking team that says: “yes let’s try that out”, instead of focusing on problems and barriers. I am so proud of the pharmacy team we have developed together over the past three years. We have moved from a small team with a traditional prescribing support role to a larger team of independent practitioners who are valued by the rest of the primary care team for their clinical expertise.

Most recently I have loved developing and using new skills in quality improvement: I can’t recommend the Scottish Quality and Safety Fellowship experience highly enough, it has changed the way I think about everything and led to fantastic new opportunities.

How much do you earn?
Band 8b.

What do you not enjoy about your job?
Sometimes the pace of change in the NHS is frustratingly slow. I understand the reasons for this but it’s probably why I was immediately sold on quality improvement and the concept of small tests of change which we can do quickly.

Life is pretty hectic. Working full time in a busy job with two young children is a juggling act I don’t think I’ll ever master!

Are you a member of any pharmacy organisations?
Yes, I’m a Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and was one of the first cohort of pharmacists to join the Society’s Faculty.

Who, if anyone, has influenced your career?
The list is far too long to name everyone here! I have to start with Alison Strath and Bill Scott, because I was so inspired by their vision in “The Right Medicine” that I moved to Scotland. And on a daily basis, I am energised by the fantastic pharmacy team I work with in North and West NHS Highland.

Then I should single out Jill Gillies from the Scottish Patient Safety Programme who sparked my initial interest in quality improvement. I have been influenced by many people who are committed to quality in NHS Highland, but top of that list are the director of quality improvement Gill McVicar and chief executive Elaine Mead. Finally I should say that I had a life changing learning experience at Intermountain Healthcare this year which has changed the direction of my career.

What would you like to do next?
More of the same! In pharmacy, I want to use finish our Pharmacy Anywhere telehealth pilot and plan how we integrate telehealth into our everyday work. We are currently working on a new pharmacy technician role in GP practices and I also want to introduce a band 6 pharmacist development post.

In quality improvement, I’m working on a big project to provide outpatient appointments by telehealth and I’d like to see telehealth used much more, it is especially important in our remote and rural context in NHS Highland but actually it’s good for patient choice everywhere.

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