Ten minutes with.... Victoria Steele, LloydsPharmacy
Victoria Steele was appointed as LloydsPharmacy's first female superintendent pharmacist in September. Pharmacy Magazine caught up with her recently to learn about her ambitions for the multiple.
What are your immediate priorities in the role?
To get as close as possible to our pharmacy teams. They operate in a pressurised environment, especially at the moment, so it is very important to maintain close contact so they feel they are able to feed back to us directly or through our pharmacy listening groups.
LloydsPharmacy also has ambitious digital health plans – we have seen massive growth in use of our Echo prescription app during the coronavirus pandemic – so an important part of my role is to support our pharmacists through this change process as the boundaries blur between digital and bricks-and-mortar services. It is an area where regulation perhaps lags slightly behind practice.
The one thing I would say is that whereas some patients prefer to visit our pharmacies in person and others use our digital services (or indeed use both interchangeably), patients with more complex needs must have face-to-face care from our pharmacists in their communities. I can’t stress this enough.
What has stood out for you about how pharmacy has handled the coronavirus pandemic?
The resilience and dedication shown by our pharmacy teams in keeping their doors open during the crisis was incredible. The main things I learnt were how effective we were as a company at working quickly, collaboratively and making practical decisions.
Reflecting on the changes to our ways of working, I think we can now have a very different conversation about, say, remote supervision and agree a framework on how to implement it. I also think we can learn from GPs about remote consultation and open up our capability to offer more services.
Finally, the way that pharmacy has coped so well with the massive demand for flu vaccinations leaves me in no doubt that the sector would hit the ground running if asked to administer Covid jabs.
How disappointed were you over the recent incident, widely reported in the media and the second case in just over a year, where a relief pharmacist at one of your branches refused to supply EHC?
It is unacceptable that any woman who has the courage to walk into one of our branches for EHC had to face this situation, whether it is a relief pharmacist involved or one of our full-time pharmacists – it makes no difference.
I fully accept pharmacists’ religious and moral beliefs but patient care cannot be compromised in this way and we expect our pharmacists to follow GPhC guidelines. We are reviewing our policy in this area and will strengthen our messaging and training on how religious beliefs may be applied in the workplace.
What does it mean to you to be LloydsPharmacy’s first female pharmacist superintendent?
I am excited to be a role model for young, female pharmacists. I am passionate about patient care, safety and professionalism. I am especially proud of SaferCare, our patient safety programme that I introduced in 2013. I want LloydsPharmacy to be the safest pharmacy chain in the UK, the ‘go to’ place for personal healthcare for patients and their families.