From NHS to self employment

After almost 30 years of working in the NHS, with great trepidation, I left Liverpool Medicines Management team (MMT) in 2013 and set up Ashburton Prescribing Consultants with Lynne Garforth, another pharmacist from the same team.

Leaving the NHS and in particular the MMT in Liverpool was difficult. The team in Liverpool was large and I had formed such strong friendships with the people I worked with both in the team and in the GP practices I was assigned to. I am very grateful that those relationships continue both professionally and personally.  Liverpool is a great place to work. Both staff and patients tend to just say it as it is; it is refreshingly honest and often very entertaining.

Prior to working in primary care I spent 15 years working in secondary care at Alder Hey Children’s hospital and then Clatterbridge hospital Wirral; again both great experiences. I learnt a lot and worked with another great team. During this time I specialised clinically in paediatrics, elderly care, palliative care and was an inspector of Nursing homes.

After completing a clinical diploma in the late 90s I then went on to qualify as an Independent Prescriber in 2008.

I fell into pharmacy rather by chance so have always been hugely grateful that I love it. Clinical pharmacy to me is fascinating. Since the start of my working life I have always thought that pharmacists should lead the way in being prescribers and slowly but surely the profession is moving that way.  I believe pharmacists should prescribe to a safe process across the BNF. If pharmacists with five years training on medicines cannot do this safely then who can?

My reasons for leaving the NHS were frustration with how much time was spent away from patients and how long it took to get anything started. In my last NHS role I was lucky if I spent 25% of my time doing a clinical role, since going independent I spend 80 to 90% of my time with patients and that is where I believe my skills and training can be best utilised.

Since Lynne and I set up Ashburton Prescribing, we have worked many hours to develop a service we are proud of. We work on with GP surgeries and I can honestly say that the NHS gets far more value for money from me now, than it ever did when I was employed by them. I am surprised to hear myself say this, as previously I was always opposed to any privatisation of the NHS. From my own experience I believe that the right private companies, who are predominantly patient focussed, can be an enormous asset to our great NHS. Lynne and I have cut out so much waste from the working day and are very productive for patients. We now have a team of pharmacists who work with us and we train them to have the same knowledge and values.

I will be forever grateful for my NHS experience; I had many different roles and developed a broad clinical base which I am now sharing with other pharmacists to train them too, so we can provide GP practices and ultimately patients with a great service.

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