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“I left my surgery fired up to develop my own asthma reviews” John Hamill tells PIP

John Hamill


John Hamill is a general practice base pharmacist. He lives and works in Belfast, Northern Ireland. After many years of working in community pharmacy, he made the change to work in general practice in 2017. He is currently the Lead Practice-Based Pharmacist in South Belfast. He has responsibility for 9 practice-based pharmacists who work across 16 GP practices.


He was kind enough to take some time out to tell us about some the activity he is now involved in and also what steps he has taken to achieve his current position.


Why did you become a pharmacist?


Since my mid-teens I have always had an interest in chemistry and pharmacy was mentioned as a possible career pathway. I did some research and was pleasantly surprised as to the breadth of possibilities across the pharmacy sector. Making a difference by giving people medicines had a great appeal. Once on the register, opportunities opened up to extend my learning and advance service provision- which I grasped with both hands. I then realised that as a pharmacist I could contribute substantially to the future health of generations.


Could you describe your career pathway so far?


It all started when I was just 13 years of age and had a job delivering prescriptions on my push bike for a local chemist. This started to inspire me towards a career in pharmacy.


At 16, I began working in a shirt shop where I started my actual business management development, working there until I graduated with BSc. Hons. Pharmacy, Queens University, Belfast. This opportunity prepared me perfectly for Pharmacy management.


I have been a Community Pharmacy Manager since registration in 1998 until 2017. With the support of my employers, I forged ahead in developing and delivering many extended pharmaceutical services including Substitute Prescribing, Specialist Smoking Cessation, MURs, MYM, Dom. O2, drug use, misuse and abuse training to community groups and regular Health Promotion /MOT days.


I had always had a passion for respiratory care and decided to upskill as a respiratory specialist beginning with Dipl. Asthma Management in 2009 and then specialising in COPD shortly afterwards. I undertook a Dipl. Independent Prescribing, Respiratory Care in 2015.


It was my passion for improving patient outcomes especially through better use of medicines -namely inhaler use that led me next to train as an Advanced Inhaler Trainer(UK) and have also provided ICON COPD and smoking Cessation training for several years.


I am now involved in Respiratory training of many healthcare professionals (HCPs) from undergraduate level to GPs. I train Pharmacists, with emphasis on better inhaler selection for patients to maximise inhaler technique, both for the HCP and how they can better train their patients. As well as, advising on improving respiratory review and formulary choices.


I carried out some personal research within the GP Practice pre-NRAD (Nation review of Asthma deaths) which was presented at PCRS in 2014. This research looked at face to face respiratory review and switching of inhalers improved compliance to ICS/LABA and reduced reliance on SABAs. This work has continued to support research carried out by RIRL (David Price et al.)


I completed the Bradford Dipl. Diabetes in 2017/18. I have been providing prescribing advise as part of a HSCB (Health and Social Care Board) initiative within a local GP Practice on a sessional basis from several years until I moved full time into my current role as ‘Lead Practice-Based Pharmacist, South Belfast Federation of Family Practices.’ I have responsibility for managing a team of 10 (soon to be 20-April 2019) pharmacists working as PBPs in the region covering 17 primary care GP  practices. I continue my own workload including running Long Term Condition clinics in COPD, Asthma, Diabetes, Smoking cessation, Pain management, Benzodiazepine reduction and a travel clinic, as well as targeting the KPIs of the Federation-cost and time efficiencies, Antimicrobial prescribing improvements in line with NI formulary, Med reviews and Med Reconciliation post discharge.


As part of my new role, I was offered the opportunity to complete a Certificate in Leadership Management which has advanced my skill set to maximise the development of my pharmacist team.


I have been the recipient of many accolades over the years including:


  • Pharmacy Practice of Year.
  • Pharmacy Manager of Year x2.
  • Service Development Award x2.
  • Service MUR and for GP Collaboration.
  • Pharmaceutical Care of the Year Award.
  • Pharmacy of the Year Award (twice).
  • Nominated in Top 100 Most Influential HCP in NI.


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