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27 May 2020

With Covid-19 putting the NHS under significant pressure, pharmacists across the country have been stepping up to work on the frontline and save lives.

Andrew Mikhail has returned to St. Barts NHS Trust in the Royal London Hospital as  Acting Deputy Head of Pharmacy. He had initially left the hospital last September to pursue a Fellowship at the General Pharmaceutical Council. During the first weeks of the pandemic, Mikhail had been providing remote support for pharmacists across the UK, triaging enquiries and providing clear direction as guidance changed daily.

However, he wanted to do more, and so when the opportunity arose to assist directly at St. Barts, Mikhail took it.

“When the pandemic hit, my view was that wherever I was needed, I should go,” he says. “The GPhC was very supportive of my decision.”

Having not been in the hospital since last autumn when circumstances were very different, returning was not without its anxieties.

“Obviously you read in the media about what things will be like, but I did feel like I was stepping into the unknown,” says Mikhail. “I was of course nervous, and the cycle ride to the hospital didn’t help as London was deserted and felt very eerie.”

However, the sight of familiar faces, if in unfamiliar circumstances, proved a reassurance. “The feeling in the hospital is calm and purposeful,” explains Mikhail. “There is a real spirit of togetherness in the hospital. Everyone is full of goodwill and is going the extra mile for each other.”

With the advice on Covid-19 changing constantly, work has been challenging, but the experience of change is giving momentum to finding new ways of working. “We’ve had to review all our processes and are finding ways of working that in some circumstances are both safer and quicker, such as virtual orders and virtual clinics. There has been greater acceptance of change, and it would be good to see how we can maintain that momentum in future to ensure we’re always improving how we work,” says Mikhail.

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