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Shilpa Shah - CEO of Local Pharmaceutical Society

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CEO of Kent LPC, Shilpa shares her day-to-day life of the role and her experiences in working for an LPC and what made her choose a career in pharmacy.


00:00:04:16 [Speaker 1]: No.  

00:00:27:02 [Speaker 2]: I think for me, especially in community pharmacy, I do feel that a lot of the public don't realize that the knowledge that we have around medications and I feel that they feel that we simply work in a retail shop, like any other business. Um, but actually our expertise and knowledge, you know, is after four years of a degree and one year training under a supervision of another pharmacist. So I think that's the bit that frustrates me. Yeah. So I think, um, often as well, even within the pharmacy world, um, 

00:01:13:06 it's almost sort of, it was previously looked down upon a bit, if you worked in community and that you weren't a proper pharmacist, unless you worked in hospital or in a GP practice, et cetera. But actually the fact that we see people from, from birth to unfortunately to death, we see all 

00:01:30:07 sorts of minor ailments come in, we see all sorts of long-term conditions. We see everything, um, and our knowledge is no different. We've done the same degree in the same level of training, um, and actually community pharmacy in itself. There's so much more that you can do now to apply your clinical knowledge. So I do think, um, that perception needs to change because it's, it can be quite frustrating for anyone who works in community pharmacy So pharmacy is not the kind of career that you can go into that you dream 

00:02:48:10 of your whole life. I don't think, um, I think it was more for me, you 

00:02:53:00 know, when you're, when you're doing your GCSE at school, you sort of 

00:02:55:08 think, what am I good at? I want to go and do a levels. And, um, and for me, I was quite strong with, with sort of the science subjects. And I also knew I loved working with people. Um, so when I kind of decided to do, I decided pharmacy as a result of that, but actually I also knew that it was only community pharmacy that I was really going to enjoy, but that's more from the background. The fact that my parents have, um, had a news agent, um, at that point for about 20 years. But now it's, it's just sort of 20 or 

00:03:22:05 43 years that they've had a news agent and that the value that they add to the community, the customers that they know, the customers, children, um, all the sort of community feel of, of that retail business was what I wanted to do, but obviously to use my skills in science and not to have to get up at five o'clock in the morning to, um, deliver newspapers.  

00:03:43:16 [Speaker 2]: So that's what made me kind of go into pharmacy Oh, and what I liked about science is that it's quite black and white or right. And wrong. Um, so you know, a chemical reaction, you can't change that when two elements meet that is the reaction that you get. And, and, and, you know, we can't change that, or we can't say it's different. It's, it's a bit like maths, it's very right or wrong. There's only one answer. 

00:04:14:04 Um, and I think that's always easier in life. Isn't it? When you, when you come across any kind of problem, if there's more than one solution, it can get quite tricky, but often, um, with medicine, although there's different ways of applying those solutions. And often there is more, there's a lot more choice now than there ever used to be, but it is fairly black and white. If this is the condition you've got, these are the few different treatments that all the wrong along the sort of same lines. And these are the lifestyle changes that you can make to help that it's very, you know, 

00:04:41:13 ABC equals Def Yes, absolutely. So I, I like to find solutions to problems. Um, I, it's really funny, I'm in a volunteer role, I'm a listening volunteer at the Samaritans and that's all about listening and not giving advice so that 

00:05:14:09 people can kind of, I guess, make their own judgements based on once they've offloaded their feelings, et cetera. But actually in this job, people are looking to us for Frances and for solutions. And I like being the person that, that can give those answers and solutions. Well, I do now 

00:05:41:09 is, um, so I represent, um, just over three and 30 pharmacies across the whole of Ken and midway with, um, any new services that they need to do with conversations with NHS, England, uh, conversations with the local authorities, conversations with the CCG, um, any national services that come down, we help them implement it. And what I love about what absolutely love about that role is I'm not just helping a small community.  

00:06:07:21 [Speaker 2]: I'm inadvertently by helping our pharmacies, where allowing them to be able to help their communities, which means that, you know, we're enabling them to help the whole of Kent and midway. And that for me is, is so powerful. It's so big and what I also really enjoy. I love people. So I love the networking. I've had the opportunity to do so many different things in my role. I've, I've been on the radio, I've been on TV. Um, I've had conversations with MPS. I've learned a lot of, um, I guess the 

00:06:37:00 background before, when I worked in pharmacy, something gets sent down to you. You do it now, I'm working more at the background of how that service was potentially set up from, from the beginning. Um, and it's really nice to almost get that behind the scenes and also the eight being able to impact and influence that behind the scenes. I can make it as simple and easy as possible. Cause I know what it's like to work in a pharmacy. I know how, um, you know, how we always wants to put our patients and customers first and any paperwork that gets in the way of 

00:07:06:15 that whilst it's important, we want to prioritize a patient rather than paperwork. So I'm always about let's simplify it. How can we take that section out? How can we make ABCD simply just a and B job done? Um, so that's what I love about my role. Just being able to influence and impact decision-making  

00:07:39:09 [Speaker 2]: Yes, absolutely. So, um, many years ago, about 15 years ago, I did have someone in one of my pharmacies that had an anaphylactic shock and I was able to administer an EpiPen adrenaline to them. And, um, obviously we called the ambulance and, and you know, they, they said that we'd, we'd saved their life that day. And that was a great feeling. I got, you know, you'll never be able to sort of say that you've well, not a lot of people can say they've done that. It was an absolute, amazing feeling. And whilst that was brilliant, it was great. This we're 

00:08:08:19 doing every single day, we're having, we're all enabling our pharmacies to make small differences to people's lives. And you're touching sort of, you know, millions of lives every day in community pharmacy across across the country. Um, and that is a great feeling. You, you, the job satisfaction you get for that, I think it's very difficult to get that in, in a lot of other jobs. So, you know, that's something I'm really proud of and feel really happy with  

00:08:42:12 [Speaker 1]: Okay.  

00:08:43:02 [Speaker 2]: Um, so all pharmacists and I mean the ones that work in GPS practices, I work in meet hospital pharmacists and community pharmacies. The one thing they all have in common is that they want to give the best service and do absolutely what is right by their patient that is at the forefront of all of them. You know, we they'll do things for free. They'll go out and do free deliveries for a patient. Um, though, you know, I guess if someone's forgotten their medication, they'll be able to follow a process which allows them to give them some time them over the weekend until they can see their doctor, they will go above and beyond that extra 

00:09:14:10 mile for their patient. So I think that that is what I think they all absolutely have in common.  

00:09:38:17 [Speaker 1]: Yeah.  

00:09:40:03 [Speaker 2]: So, um, I, obviously I was one of the, one of the last years to do the three year degree. Uh, pharmacy used to be a three-year degree. So I then did a year's training in a large, multiple, um, group pharmacy. And then I became a very soon after actually qualifying, um, three, my pre-registration year, I was offered to become a store manager and I've always, I've always liked the people side of things like training and developing people, um, helping them be the best that they 

00:10:11:02 can be. So I then had a 16 year career where I worked my way up the management ladder, um, and just managed, um, branches within this large, multiple, but they were bigger and bigger branches. So I started off with a team of six people. Um, and the last branch that I was in, I had almost 90 staff that I was, that I was leading and managing. Um, and it was great because I got to look after the big side of the retail business, as well as, you know, having that clear focus because the heart of their business was always to me, like it was always falling to say, um, 

00:10:42:08 the reason I chose that is exactly what I said, I love, uh, what can people be the best they can be? And throughout those 16 years, I worked for that company. I'm thinking in touch with so many people, I've met so many of my best friends. Um, you know, when I worked for them, but actually also a lot of the people I've worked with is great now because I've seen them where they were like, maybe, um, you know, I've got one who was a Saturday, um, kid for me who is now a dispensary in a hospital. Um, I've got someone else 

00:11:09:19 who was 18 Linda and is now managing one of the Bronx in London.  

00:11:14:05 [Speaker 2]: So I could greet him. I really supported their development and help them. You know, I was one of the people that helped them get to the positions they're in. Um, I had another Saturday, um, I say Saturday, but yeah, that time it was a young class in the wet days who then went on to the pharmacy. And, um, more recently when I was out shopping recently, I saw a river as I'm covering one of the pharmacies near where I live and it was great to catch up with her and sort of know that that was partly, you know, the weird inspired them to, to go off and do that. Um, I then had an opportunity to become an area manager, um, with another 

00:11:47:08 organization. So I did that for a few years and again, similar and I think would be with the area manager role. What was good is that you were managing different branches that all had their own different, um, you know, successes and challenges. And again, it was that real problem-solving in me kind of going, how can we fix that? And actually creating that team spirit that if a branch was struggling, then another branch would support them. Um, so I really liked that part of my job. Um, and it was actually in that job that I got to do a bit of, um, I 

00:12:17:05 guess, work with some, you know, there was someone who, um, asked me to get to the house of commons for an, for an event with some MPS, et cetera. And that's when I felt, Oh, I really kind of like that side of the job. So when this job came up, um, I thought this is brilliant. You know, I don't just get to help like one pharmacy that I'm managing.  

00:12:35:11 [Speaker 2]: I don't just get to help the 40 pharmacies that I'm area manager for. I get to help over 300,000 pharmacies. That is amazing. That is really what once they, and it was so varied. And throughout my career, I've had opportunities to dip in and out of projects with the CCG or, um, managing the service with the local authority. But this role takes all of that into account. And it was all the bits that I sort of enjoy doing. And all my other roles, the online books are doing, um, in this role. And I'm not just, it, I'm not necessarily developing lots of people, 

00:13:07:21 but the impact I have on the pharmacist that I talked to, I know that I am making that small difference to make them think a bit differently, to make them think of a different way of doing something that may help them. Um, and many of them have said that to me. So I do still feel I'm having the impact. I'm just not having that direct like leadership within pharmacy.  

00:13:24:18 [Speaker 1]: Oh,  

00:13:35:19 [Speaker 2]: We had three jumps to, Um, with everything it's people, it's the networking, it's the people I love talking to people. I love, um, inspiring them. I love getting them to 

00:14:04:23 think differently sometimes, you know, if they're having a bad day, they might find you off in a bit of a panic needing help with something. And I like at the end of the conversation, they feel calm or they feel supported and they feel that they can go and tackle, tackle the issue that they came to you within the first place. So I think that's all about, I guess, empowering people to be able to make decisions, to feel confident in the decisions they're making with the fact that they've got support and backup, if they need it.  

00:14:48:00 [Speaker 2]: It's the patience, I think with any job with healthcare, I think everyone will tell you anyone you speak to, um, however, you know, how difficult the job is, however, tiring and stressful the job is at the end of the day, we all do what we do every day for our patients, um, and for the teams that we work with. But, but again, you know, if you ask them why they do it, they do it for their patients, because we just want to know that we're helping someone for a little bit better than when they came into our pharmacy where, you know, they're leaving feeling a bit better and you know, if they've coming from 

00:15:17:10 education, we know that in the next few days they'll feel a lot better. Um, but I think that's why we all do it for the patients. I think it is the inspiration of people. So inspiring people to, you know, start off doing something and not maybe realizing that they've got the 

00:15:48:18 potential or not having the confidence to sort of think about how different their future could be. Um, and throughout my career, when I look back and think of all the different people that I've, that I've inspired to sort of go off and do something different, that's probably what makes me the proudest I think it's just a lot of, um, community pharmacists and their teams. They 

00:16:41:03 normally live in the area that they work in. And I think it's nice to know 

00:16:45:09 that you're almost giving back too for me. So for example, my parents, um, business, you know, anything that I do locally, like my volunteering, it's about giving back to the community that, that bought me up. So, you know, they say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, you know, I went to school in this community. I was born in like the local hospital. I go to the doctors around here, all my friends, you know, a lot of my friends are here. So for me, it was about giving back. That means in, I think that's a lot of what, you know, pharmacists want to do that it's normally a farm an 

00:17:15:21 that they live in, um, that they killed him, their schooling or, um, you know, their, their, their partners and their relatives work in the area.  

00:17:24:20 [Speaker 2]: And I think they want to give something back to that community. So by having a pharmacy and helping improve the healthcare needs of that community, it's something you're doing. That's just improving the healthcare of the health care of that community, which in turn will just help that community thrive and develop and construct. It's lovely. When I go into Sigma market and people, you know, stop and ask me, my parents have retired now and they stop and ask me how my parents are and that the impact that they've had on them, they still remember them, or, you know, people, I went to school with, obviously that used to buy their swings from my mum 

00:17:55:11 and dad shop and, and, and, you know, they were part of that community. And I find that a lot as well. I used to find it when I worked, um, you know, in the pharmacies that I've worked in, you, you, you pop out to get a bite to eat for your lunch and people would stop you and ask you like, Oh, I'm popping in later, is my medication ready? And just knowing that they recognize you and know now how important you are in their life. Even though for us, we just see ourselves as just a pharmacist that works in the pharmacy, but actually we're so much more than that to so many of our 

00:18:23:05 patients. Yeah. Yeah. Um, I think it's made me realize sort of how lucky we are, um, how lucky in England we are as well to have the, that the access to 

00:18:53:04 healthcare that we have. Um, so, you know, I know a lot of people complain about the NHS, et cetera, but actually knowing that, you know, you can get treated by anybody so quickly, I think is always a good thing in death to pay money. I think that's, that's something that we shouldn't really knock. Um, and so I think it's made me realize how lucky we are. I think, um, it's made me, it's made me a nicer person, I think as well, because I think you 

00:19:21:21 see, you know, you might be having a bad day, but then you see sort of someone coming in talking about their child not being well. And you realize that however bad your days, it isn't as bad as somebody else's day. And actually there's always someone that, that needs you more than you need someone else, for example. So I think it just makes you a nicer, kinder, softer person. Um, and yeah, I think that's really what I would say. Yeah.  

00:19:59:21 [Speaker 1]: Yeah.  

00:20:05:00 [Speaker 2]: Oh, I think it's, I think it's a real privilege. And I think anyone who works in the will tell you that, well, however difficult it may be. And however, however much pressure people are under, I still think it's something we should be really proud of that we're able to support community pharmacies. They would support the NHS in the way that it does. And for some of my colleagues, pharmacists who work directly within NHS structures, the work they do is directly impacting on, on, you know, patients within the NHS. And I think all of us would say that we feel 

00:20:34:20 really proud to be able to do that and to have that impact. Yeah. So I think that, I think if there is something in pharmacy and in the healthcare 

00:21:07:20 that every contact counts, so everything you do should be adding some sort of value to that person's life. Um, and I think that that's something that all pharmacists, um, and the teams that their support teams as well, so dispensers healthcare assistants, um, you know, people that work on Saturdays in the pharmacy late nights, et cetera, everything that we do is 

00:21:31:02 I think, value to that person's life Yeah. That's what you were seeing pharmacy. Sorry. Cool. How's it going to 

00:22:07:23 say so many different people and like you said, I think actually standing in pharmacy for half a day and observing that's when you see the impact that pharmacy has on people. I don't think you realize that when you just go in for your power seats, more ibuprofen, cause you're rushing in and rushing out. But I think what you saw was what a day in the pharmacy is really like  

00:22:44:13 [Speaker 2]: I think that the future pharmacy, we need to be more, um, innovative and we need to, um, I guess look at digital access more and that's not to say that we need to move away from bricks and mortar at all. I think it's really important that people could still visit a pharmacy if they want. There's nothing like getting that holistic overview of a patient to know what's really going on with them. But I do think that we need to look at different ways of increasing our accessibility for those people that can't visit a pharmacy, but are happy to, to use technology. 

00:23:16:00 Um, I think that the future for younger people generally is technology. And I think we need to be open to that and we need to adapt to that and we need to do it quite quickly because I think COVID has really shown us the change in behaviors from people where they've switched from visiting premises to shopping online, et cetera. Um, and often, you know, going from a face-to-face, um, visit with a healthcare professional to a, um, consultation over like using technology. 

00:23:44:13 So I think that the future needs to be around, um, really developing that technology, making it an easier, simple as possible. I also think that community pharmacy in particular needs to be able to do a lot more. So for example, um, we have, um, in some community pharmacies, we have independent prescribers. Um, and I know there's a view to trying to get everybody who qualifies become an independent prescriber. And I think that's brilliant. So I think for some minor illnesses that aren't long-term conditions, it'd 

00:24:12:00 be great if you could just go to your pharmacy on a Saturday afternoon and not have to go down to urgent care and put pressure on, on, on a and E uh, or not have to make an appointment to see the GP and put pressure on them so that what they can do then GPS can then see, uh, some of their patients who need a bit more support that have long-term conditions. And in turn that takes the pressure off of the hospitals who can then see the patients that need that. So I think if, if pharmacy could do more and it's coming, um, but I think it just needs to move a bit quicker. And I think it will, I 

00:24:41:11 think the next few years are going to be really key and instrumental in us seeing that change.  

00:25:04:13 [Speaker 2]: Yeah. So I think along with, um, obviously supermarkets, it kind of shows you that people need food drink and they also need their medication and they need their healthcare needs met. So the fact that we're so proud of the fact that community pharmacy stayed open, um, throughout the whole of COVID and we were, we were the people that were there for, for our patients when they couldn't necessarily, um, see other healthcare professionals in the same way. And I think that's really taught a lot of patients that, Oh, actually my pharmacy can answer these 

00:25:34:23 questions. My pharmacy does know what, you know, what medication I'm on and they can help me. Um, so we are seeing an increase in people walking in through our doors, which is brilliant. Um, and yeah, we'd just like to continue that in the future. And let's not slip back to where we were two years ago. Cause I think we've really moved forward during COVID. And I think it's important that we try and try and keep it that way. No, or no, I would say they to anyone who is thinking about a career in 

00:26:20:19 pharmacy, I did do some work experience in a pharmacy. And I think that that's, you know, it's really important for, and for any career that you're thinking about that you do try and get some work experience in that field. Um, and whilst that only gives you a bit of a snapshot view and it's only 

00:26:34:20 normally for a week, et cetera, I think it really gives you kind of an idea on, on whether you're going to enjoy something or not. Um, if you come out of your work experience thinking I really had a great week, then you know that that's right for you. If you come out of it thinking, Oh, I'm not sure that that's right for me, that perhaps it isn't right for you. So wherever you can try and get those experiences, try and, you know, pop in and speak to, um, your pharmacists, um, that work in any, either community pharmacy, 

00:27:00:23 hospital, et cetera. Because I think all of us are really open to supporting the career development of, of younger people into this profession.  

00:27:31:06 [Speaker 2]: Yeah. So, hi, my name's Shel Pasha. I'm the chief executive officer of Kane's local pharmaceutical committee. Hi, I'm sure Pasha. I'm the CEO of Kane's local pharmaceutical committee. 

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