Episode 4, Ade Williams, Tackling Health Inequalities through Community Pharmacy – The Future of Medicines Optimisation

In the final episode of our mini-series, Ade Williams discusses how health inequalities are most visible through community pharmacy and how leveraging different solutions and approaches can improve patient outcomes.

By on February 28, 2023


Ade Williams is a UK and Canada-qualified pharmacist. He is also the 2019 NHS Parliamentary Award Winner for Excellence in Primary Care and Pharmacist of the Year 2018. Ade is widely acknowledged for delivering pioneering pharmacy-based health and wellbeing solutions framed around the Healthy Living Pharmacy ethos.

In this video, Ade presents his take on:

  1. Pharmacists’ expert clinical contribution to the NHS is not just dispensing medicines but how medicines are used to improve and enhance health and wellbeing.
  2. Using skills and expertise to not only ensure an appropriate and safe supply of medicines but to become a stakeholder in the journey to better outcomes – for the patient.
  3. Pharmacists must challenge to break down barriers through collaboration, data-sharing and new technology-enabled interventions

Selma Abed, Head of Medicines Optimisation at Spirit Health and our host of the mini-series, answers some key questions and takeaways we had around tackling health inequalities.

New ICS structures open up the road to collaboration

Ade discussed using current resources to address health inequalities, so we asked Selma: How can community pharmacists use the new ICS structure as a benefit to tackling inequalities?

“As community pharmacy is so accessible, sometimes it can be the only touch-point for some patients. So, when raising awareness of health inequalities, community pharmacists must use their knowledge and experiences to highlight them and bring them to the table for discussion. In doing so, ICS’s can investigate and roll out better-suited services to tackle these inequalities.”

“Not only do inequalities need to be raised and heard, but they also need to be tracked and monitored. A way to go about this is through audits; these highlight different ailments, gaps in care, and recurring trends. I feel there’s a good opportunity to deal with health inequalities head-on through an ICS, with community pharmacy being that access point.”

Improving patient journeys with community pharmacy input

Ade echoes how ‘community pharmacy is the most visible gateway’ to the NHS, so we asked Selma: What other opportunities do you see within community pharmacy, and how can they improve patient experience?

“Community pharmacists are at the heart of every neighbourhood UK-wide. From an accessibility point of view, they’re in an ideal position to support their patients with medication advice, routine and self-care tips. The opportunity here lies in how they can feed those insights into the ICS structure consistently.”

“At ICS level, we know that stakeholders know the importance of community pharmacy. Still, to truly improve the patient experience, they must provide a clear communication line so the voice of community pharmacy is heard and present. There’s a lot of work to be done, but setting the correct channels within ICSs will significantly benefit the whole system. Working together will deliver that shared vision of collaborating to improve patient journeys and outcomes.”

Supporting successful medicines optimisation programmes

A big part of addressing health inequalities is delivering successful medicines optimisation programmes. So, Selma, how can community pharmacy professionals be involved in medicine optimisation decisions?

“When any ICS is evaluating potential medicines optimisation programmes, community pharmacists need a chosen representative present when these discussions happen.”

“Here at Spirit Health, when we initiate a medicines optimisation programme, we prioritise talking to the local community pharmacy about the current happenings. We know there will be patient outcomes that can only be managed at this level, for example, medication changes, accessibility, training and so on. Therefore, we ensure all key parties are kept in the loop with complete transparency so they’re engaged and informed. This all comes down to stakeholder mapping and engagement to get the correct information to the right people to drive desired changes.”


We want to know your thoughts and views. Please comment on our Twitter posts @SpiritMedsOp to share your insights and reflection on episode two. Alternatively, you can message Selma Abed on Twitter or by email.


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