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An interview with Ade Williams - addressing health inequalities in cardiovascular disease.

Updated: Jun 30, 2022

We interviewed Ade Williams, Ade is a Superintendent Pharmacist of MJ Williams Pharmacy - a multi-award winning Bedminster Pharmacy, a Healthy Living Pharmacy in Bristol. He is also a Non-Executive Director for Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, Trustee and Board Member for Self Care Forum, and Ambassador for Pancreatic Cancer Action. Ade talks about the importance of Inclusive Pharmacy Practice and initiatives such as "Pulse in the pub" to reach local communities with health and wellbeing messages.

What does your role involve?

Alongside providing clinical care as part of our team, I am also the Superintendent Pharmacist, therefore I am responsible and accountable for the processes and procedures employed in delivering care to our community, ensuring they meet all the professional and legal standards. More importantly, I work tirelessly to ensure all our team understand the varying needs in our community, supporting and enabling them to respond to this within their scope of practice but excelling at living out our collective ethos for always adding value to life and making every contact count – No one is ever left behind.

What does Inclusive Pharmacy Practice mean to you, and why is it important?

Inclusive Pharmacy Practice speaks of a moral and professional commitment to proactively understand, develop and adopt strategies in partnership with our locality to tackle any barriers that prevent individuals from accessing the best care from our pharmacy, any part of the NHS, or broader society.

This is important because, as the most accessible part of the healthcare system, Community Pharmacy is the NHS outpost, the bastion of its values. It is sadly the case that when we fail to reach you, others follow suit. By ensuring we deliver care in a manner that offers everyone our best, we are not only safeguarding their outcomes. However, we become well placed to share our insights with other health and social care colleagues to ensure the continuity of best care, address failings and remove systemic or unconscious barriers. Seeing what is missing is always vital to addressing it.

What projects have you worked on to help reduce health inequalities in CVD?

A few years ago, pre-pandemic, we started ‘‘Pulse in the Pub’’ – a Friday afternoon cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk awareness in our local pubs. The idea rather than to case find in there was to bring health care to the population, primarily working-class males with the highest local risk but were not routinely engaging with health care services. The conversations and familiarity lent themselves to normalising visits to the pharmacy for a chat, taking blood pressure readings, and discussing medicines or other health and wellbeing-related queries.

We also ran a yearly ‘’Bemmy Challenge’ a week-long Men’s CVD Health campaign. Local men would be invited into the pharmacy for a CVD risk assessment – ‘‘the challenge’’ was for you not to be the only one left out from participating amongst your mates and peers. It had local celebrities, politicians, and broadcasters all taking part—Jon Ashworth, while shadow Health Secretary came down to have a ‘‘Bemmy Challenge’’. It was part of the Public Health England (PHE) Southwest Heart Matters case study.

We also work with our Primary Care Network (PCN) Clinical Director to align work to address CVD health inequalities locally, particularly data-fed intelligence and insights, so that populations not yet best served can be reached. We are also reaching out to our non-English native population groups directly, delivering culturally appropriate programmes and removing language and communication barriers.

Finally, I work with our system leaders on our Health Inequalities steering group and use my broadcasting and writing platforms to address the dual challenges we face – encouraging communities to invest their trust in the NHS and addressing insight and commitment gaps so that healthcare providers provide care in a manner that helps to build trust and retain confidence. Health inequalities in CVD is a priority area across all these workstreams.

What advice would you give to other pharmacy professionals who are working on this?

Community Pharmacy is already a lifeline to many of the worst served population groups. Every effort we make to improve access and care significantly improves health outcomes while also resetting their lived experience of feeling invisible or undervalued. We are their advocates, champions, and stewards of their journey to more equitable treatment. They need us to remain committed and alert, or they stay in the shadows, underserved and unrepresented. We can prevent this tragedy.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I am very grateful and proud of all colleagues across Community Pharmacy for delivering care inclusively and equitably. This endears the trust and confidence placed in us across the country. However, we must remain alert, especially as we face a cost of living crisis, which is likely to further exacerbate inequalities in our society.

This article was a contribution to the Inclusive Pharmacy Practice Bulletin, published by NHS England:

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