Hello, I’m Ann Mason and I am the Deputy Production Manager in Production Services here in Pharmacy.
My journey to where I am now…
I am a registered Pharmacy Technician and I have worked in the NHS for 36 years with three-years ‘out’ working for a Private Pharmaceutical Company. The grass is not always greener, as I discovered, so I returned!
My career in Pharmacy started at the age of 18 after spending two years at Catering College. I didn’t fancy my hands smelling of onions for ever more! I applied for a variety of jobs at my local job centre and Pharmacy came up first. My first job as a Pharmacy Assistant involved washing bottles (yes we used to recycle in the 70’s) and packing orders for Community Clinics.
I eventually qualified as a Pharmacy Technician and have achieved extra qualifications including a Diploma in Pharmaceutical Technology and Quality Assurance.
Life is always busy in the NHS and I love the challenge. I see tangible results at the end of each day with the intravenous products that we have produced for patients.
I am so lucky to work with a fantastic team of people and I am grateful for their support.
We primarily produce sterile intravenous medicines and a few non-sterile products for children.
Preparation of Chemotherapy is the bulk of our workload but we also prepare intravenous feeds for patients.
We produce items in a cleanroom where we wear specialist cleanroom clothing covering us from head to foot. This protects the product from us, as a human being we are the biggest source of contamination.
Within the cleanroom we work within contained workstations which filter the air and ensure the working space is sterile.
Each product has a set of rigorous checks to ensure patient safety, so we work in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practice which is legislation that ensures products are consistently produced and controlled to particular quality standards.
A typical day
My typical work day starts with a team huddle where we pass on communication relating to current work, or discuss problems from the day before.
If I am not needed to help out on the shop floor I start with working on the Quality Management System. Review of any ‘out of specification results’, or ‘deviations to working practices’ is recorded and reviewed daily.
I am currently working on a development project to introduce a new disinfection and mopping system into the cleanroom suite. The benefits should be an easier and more thorough system. We have to clean our aseptic suite at the end of each working day which can include floors, walls and ceiling. This is quite onerous and not a task enjoyed by most!
Any change to working practices starts with raising a ‘change control’ so that all tasks are listed and monitored. I have written a validation protocol for the new disinfection system. To prove whether it is acceptable or not we will carry out contact agar plates before and after cleaning which will be incubated and checked for any growth of micro-organisms.
We are heavily regulated with procedures and part of my role is either writing or approving them.
We are audited by an external auditor every year and there are often actions to work on. For example some of my current actions are:
- Updating the capacity plan (monitoring workload in terms of overall capacity of staff)
- Arranging for work to be carried out in the aseptic suite (involves out of hours work)
- Corrective and preventative actions relating to an untoward incident
- Updating training records
- Review of training and competency assessments
- Reviewing our working practices to minimise the number of aseptic manipulations in any process
- Sourcing sterile minigrip bags (ideally any item used in the clean room should be sterile)
- Review of wiping and spraying transfer disinfection process, of items going into the aseptic suite
- Implementing a system to record all components used if they are not currently recorded on worksheets
We also have our own internal audit system where we pick a section of work and review procedure and observe working practices to ensure they are being followed and that we are carrying out best practice. I am involved in ensuring these are kept on schedule.
What are the high points to my day? I would certainly say that knowing patients have received their treatment on time is right up there.
Then, alternatively, the low point is the complete opposite, when patients don’t receive their treatment on time. Having been a patient myself I know how frustrating it is if you have an appointment scheduled but are kept waiting.
It is important to remember that there is a patient at the end of our processes, and I try to instil this into all staff which includes visits to wards when they start working with us.
Ann is writing as part of the #WeCare2 campaign that will be running across our Trust communications. Look out for more from Pharmacy, and their AHP and HCS colleagues, on our social media pages, Trust screensavers, Daily Email, Vital Signs and much more.