An “incredibly attentive” and supportive member of the pharmacy team is set to retire from Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust at the end of the month – after almost four decades in the NHS.
Liz Payne, who currently works as a principal pharmacist medicines safety officer at Walsall Manor Hospital, is retiring after almost 38 years in a variety of roles. On her last working day at the Trust, she also celebrates her 60th birthday surrounded by her colleagues.
Liz’s career began in 1985 when she undertook a pharmacy training post for one year. Her time was split between Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Hospital and Travenol – the manufacturing company now called Baxter.
“I had the experience of both industry and hospital, and realised I really loved the hospital sector. I enjoy working in a team and brainstorming with colleagues, which I gained from taking the path I did. It was also the patient contact – going out on to the wards, working with a variety of colleagues, and supporting patients on their journeys,” said Liz.
“When I qualified, I became a ‘basic grade’ pharmacist at Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Hospital and City General and North Staffs hospitals – now University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, and worked there for around six years.”
Liz then joined Stoke Mandeville Hospital as a medicines information pharmacist, where she was in post for 11 years before moving to Walsall Manor Hospital.
She said: “My current role covers a range of work. I spend around eight hours per week in the dispensary supporting my colleagues, and I review the drug charts on the neonatal unit. But my main role is medicine safety – reviewing medication error incidents, analysing trends, and attending key Trust forums.
“A message that I really want to leave behind is that medicine safety is the responsibility of all staff.
“There is also more work to be done around patient engagement and understanding around medicine and treatment. Medicine safety is all about making sure the environment is as safe as possible for patients, and that we don’t contribute inadvertently to any deterioration.”
Reflecting on her career, Liz recalls that when the non-medical prescribing group was set up at the Trust, there were very few pharmacists in the department who were prescribing.
“I remember collaborating with the lead non-medical prescriber to ensure that there was a non-medical prescribing policy in place, and that there was regular continued professional development sessions.
“I also organised a conference to promote this work, around five years ago in the Sister Dora Lecture Theatre. I remember the external speaker praising our policy and saying it was one of the best she had ever read, which was a really proud moment for me.”
Liz has also experienced Walsall Healthcare from a patient perspective when she contracted COVID-19 in March 2020.
“I was admitted to the acute medical unit (AMU) and then moved to ward 2. I was in hospital for a week and received excellent care, but the experience was horrifying,” she said.
“MP Eddie Hughes contacted me and I recorded a video to highlight some of the key guidance around COVID-19 at the time, as someone who had been impacted by it.
“As a pharmacy department we really came together during this time. We set up systems to ensure staff could access drugs quickly – checking stock levels, chasing supplies, and liaising with clinicians. It’s all work that was done behind the scenes, but played a huge part in patients continuing to receive high quality care.”
Liz continues: “Patients are at the centre of everything – which is something my career has taught me. We are here to make sure their journeys are as comfortable as possible.”
Director of Pharmacy Gary Fletcher said: “I have really enjoyed working with Liz. She has given me a lot of support over the last seven years.
“She has done a lot of work around medication safety, and has an incredible attention to detail.
“We will miss her in her current role, but look forward to working with her again when she returns in her new role as paediatric lead at the start of May.”