Health Careers LIVE with the Pharmacy Department

Health Careers LIVE are live streamed events that broadcast to thousands across the UK wanting to find out more about the different job roles within the NHS.

This live broadcast featured Tracy Hedley, a Lead Technician working at the Pharmacy Department at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.

The live chat is open next to the video player so feel free to leave a question or comment and we’ll get it forwarded to the team from the Pharmacy Department at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.

Broadcast length 20 minutes

About the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

We are an acute hospital and community NHS Trust providing NHS services for people living in East Sussex and surrounding areas.

We provide our services from two district general hospitals, Conquest Hospital in Hastings and Eastbourne DGH both of which have Emergency Departments and provide care 24 hours a day. They offer a comprehensive range of surgical, medical and maternity services supported by a full range of diagnostic and therapy services.

We also provide community services across East Sussex, and our community teams provide care in people’s homes, from a number of clinics and GP surgeries. We also provide services at our Community sites including Bexhill Hospital, where we provide outpatients, ophthalmology, rehabilitation and intermediate care services. Rye, Winchelsea and District Memorial Hospital where we provide Outpatient and inpatient intermediate care services and at Firwood House where we jointly provide, with Adult Social Care, inpatient intermediate care services. We also provide some services at Uckfield Community Hospital and Lewes Victoria Hospital.

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Video player and chat for Health Careers LIVE with the Pharmacy Department

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LIVE CHAT

The sponsors

  • Health Education England

The panel

Tracy Hedley

Lead Technician, Education & Training, Pharmacy Department, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

I left school at 16 and began working in any job I could to earn enough money to live on.  I started in catering, but later took jobs as a despatch clerk, delivery driver and even a forklift truck driver!  I grew up in a small village where my parents ran the local shop/Post Office.  Hard work was ingrained within me from the outset as my two siblings and I were required to contribute to all tasks from mopping the floors, delivering customers’ shopping on our bikes and roller skates to selling cigarettes to my primary school teachers!  These were different times, but my work ethic has stood me in good stead for my whole career.

Like most Pharmacy Technicians, I fell into the world of pharmacy by accident.  I applied for a counter assistant job when I was 18 in a small independent pharmacy; I had no idea about medicines but took the job because I was very experienced in shop work from my childhood and always enjoyed providing excellent customer service. I was lucky enough to work alongside a young pharmacist who put all his energy into my learning & development.  I was privileged enough to undertake my NPA Dispensing Assistants Course and went on to complete the Apothecary Hall Certificate.  It involved weeks of exams and lots of travel, including a residential in Sunderland.  It was a lot more demanding than the current Level 2 Courses but the content nowadays is much more relevant to the role itself.

After 8 years of working in 2 different community pharmacies, I was thirsty to learn more so I applied for a senior assistant position in the local hospital and was later lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to study for my Level 3 BTEC in Pharmaceutical Science.  This was before the NVQ was common place, so I did not need to do this too, although I did complete it for my own personal development.

I registered with the GPhC in 2001 as a Pharmacy Technician and after setting up the ‘award-winning’ One-stop dispensing scheme and gaining some ward based medicines management experience, I decided to bravely leave the nurturing environment of the acute hospital to set up a Medicines Usage Review (MUR) Service in patients’ homes under the employment of the local Primary Care Trust (now known as a CCG).  This involved taking referrals form GPs and pharmacists who were concerned about how their patients managed their medicines.  I enjoyed supporting patients to improve compliance and stay safe to prevent re-admissions to hospital.  Alongside this role I undertook a secondment with the regional education team, which used my own experience to help develop others by becoming a facilitator and later on the ‘Course Lead’ for the Medicines Management Course delivered by Health Education England (South East).   This was a great time for me, but very busy as I also got married and started a family during this time but I found that I  thrived on supporting others and it gave me a chance to help develop the careers of so many people expressing gratitude to the young pharmacist who had supported me initially.  I completed my Foundation Degree in Medicines Management alongside working, teaching and running a home! Sadly the MUR service was lost during a re-structure, so in 2012 I applied for the post of Lead Pharmacy Technician for Education & Training back at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust when my hospital experience first began.

I now thoroughly enjoy supporting and developing staff into Pharmacy professionals at all levels.  I am proud of being able to set up Pharmacy apprenticeships for the first time and being able to offer the same opportunity to young people as was kindly offered to me.

Natasha Scott

Apprentice Pharmacy Assistant, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

I attended Bexhill College and achieved a Triple Distinction star In Health and Social Care. I was always unsure of what career path I wanted to go down and ended up applying to do a Nursing Degree. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful and decided that I would experience the world of care.

I worked as a lone worker going to elderly peoples’ homes to care for them and then went on to work in a nursing home with Dementia patients. Healthcare gave me an amazing experience to learn how to communicate with healthcare professionals and patients on a regular basis and build my confidence.

I decided I wanted to progress onto a career where I could build and work my way up through the ranks without having to go to university. I looked around for Apprenticeships and came across an open day for Pharmacy Apprenticeships at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust. I attended the open day, had a tour of the pharmacy and was explained how after the Apprenticeship you were able to train and progress to become a Registered Pharmacy Technician. I applied and got the job and have been very thrilled with the experience.

I am currently nearing the end of my 15 month Apprenticeship and my knowledge about pharmaceuticals is greater than I ever expected it to be at this point in my career. As an Apprentice, I get to experience all of the aspects of the Pharmacy including, Stores, Dispensary, Distribution and Portering, so there’s without a doubt no boring day in the Pharmacy and every day is completely different. Whilst learning on the job I am completing my NVQ 2 in Pharmacy Service Skills which I feel is definitely the best way for me to learn, you are surrounded by colleagues who have all
completed the same course and help you in any way possible.

I am studying a L2 BTEC in Pharmaceutical Science which is very interesting and supports my on the job learning. Due to the amount of care and support I have received from colleagues I am excelling to a great standard within the job itself and my coursework. I have just applied for a full time job and have been appointed, so when my apprenticeship is complete I will be qualified as a Pharmacy Assistant and have a permanent position within the Pharmacy ready to apply for the next available opening for the Pre-registration Trainee Pharmacy Technician role.

Megan Bilsby

Pre-registration Trainee Pharmacy Technician, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

I attended college to complete my A Levels between the ages of 16 -18. I was unsure of what I wanted to do at the time but decided to stay on for an extra year at college to complete a Media Studies course as I thought it might be a hobby I would enjoy pursuing as a career. I managed to do really well in the course so decided to study Multimedia and Broadcast Journalism at university and achieved an upper 2nd class degree. I gained valuable skills and confidence during this time. However after applying for several jobs over a period of 6 months in media I became disheartened as none of the employers even responded to my applications. I decided I could not picture myself doing this career anymore.

Healthcare and pharmaceuticals was something that I was interested in as a young teenager but because I thought I needed to complete science A levels to be able to go to university, I felt this was beyond my capabilities, so decided to pursue a hobby instead. I saw an advert for a Pharmacy Assistant job at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust and decided to go for it after reading that the post included apprenticeship training. I was surprised that I got the position as I had no previous healthcare experience but soon realised that qualifications are not the only thing which matter when you apply for a job, attitude and values are sometimes more useful, particularly when you apply for a trainee position.

I completed my in-house training in pharmacy service skills, and had only just enrolled on the apprenticeship course officially when an opportunity came up to apply for a trainee Pharmacy Technician. I had been working alongside Pharmacy Technicians for nearly a year at this point so had a good idea of what the role involved and at this point could see that this was a career I would enjoy and have the ability to pursue.

I have been a Pre-registration Trainee Pharmacy Technician for 4 months now and I have learned more skills than I ever thought possible and am studying a Level 3 BTEC in Pharmaceutical Science alongside a L3 NVQ in Pharmacy Service Skills which is equivalent to the 3 science A Levels I thought were out of reach when I was at school. Studying in a working environment is easier than a classroom as I am surrounded by colleagues who have been on the same journey and I can put my learning into perspective with real patients.

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