The region’s biggest pharmacy conference attracts hundreds of delegates

One of the country’s largest pharmacy conferences welcomed more than 200 pharmacy professionals in Newcastle.

The Great North Pharmacy Research Collaborative (GNPRC) Regional Conference took place at St James’ Park in Newcastle upon Tyne in front of a packed-out audience of pharmacy professionals from across the North.

The GNPRC conference brought together the region’s pharmacy community to showcase research projects taking place across hospital, community, academia and primary care. The aim is to share ideas and encourage further research to, ultimately, improve quality of care to patients, reduce risk of harm from medicines and increase efficiencies.

The annual event included internationally renowned speakers, poster exhibitions, breakout sessions and provided the opportunity for pre-registration pharmacists to present their research projects to an audience of industry leaders.

In the last two years, the event has grown exponentially, increasing from 30 people in 2017 to more than 200 this year.

Laura Tweddle, chair of the conference and Lead Pharmacist for Education, Training and Patient Safety at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled with the response to this year’s conference. The overwhelming enthusiasm from delegates and speakers highlights the appetite within the region for a platform to showcase research, share ideas and network with colleagues across all sectors of pharmacy.”

“The calibre of research being done in the North East and North Cumbria is astounding and it’s important that we come together as a region to learn from each other, shout about what we’re doing on a national level and to engage newly qualified pharmacists in the research mindset.”

“We’d like to thank everyone who attended – either as a delegate, speaker or exhibitor – and we’re looking forward to next year’s event, which we hope will continue to grow in popularity.”

At the conference, one of the keynotes was presented by Dr Adam Todd, Reader in Pharmaceutical Public Health at Newcastle University, who shared insights into research around reducing polypharmacy (deprescribing) to improve patient outcomes.

Dr Todd, who is part of an international group of researchers that seek to reduce inappropriate medication use and polypharmacy, said: “The Great North Pharmacy Research Collaborative Regional Conference was a fantastic event to be part of. It was a pleasure to share my research around polypharmacy and to hear about the vast array of research projects happening within the region that are making a difference to the way we work and, more importantly, the lives of patients.

“Pharmacy research is vitally important and events such as this highlight the region’s strengths within this field, whilst also serving to encourage pre-registration pharmacists to build on their research interests throughout the course of their careers.”

The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Pharmacy Working Together: delivering safer care’. Keynote speakers included Paula Russell, Regional Integrating Pharmacy and Medicines Optimisation (IPMO) Lead, and Wasim Baqir, National Lead for Care Homes at NHS England. Presentations were also delivered by Sue Hart, Academic Health Science Network North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC); Dr Hilary Allan, NIHR Clinical Research Network NENC; Dr Duncan Stewart, University of York; and Alastair Paterson from Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, who was the pre-registration project winner last year.

Five pre-registration trainees were invited to present their research projects at the event with the chance of winning a prize in recognition of their work.

Sherief El-Shakankery, from The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, presented his audit of prophylactic use of Filgrastim in patients receiving R-CHOP for Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which impressed the panel of judges and saw him named the Regional Pre-Registration Project Winner 2019.

The other trainees that presented were: Kimrin Sohal, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust; Maria Jinks, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust; Katherine Emma Stutz, South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; and Freya Cato, The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Sue Hart, Health Programme Manager at the AHSN NENC who spoke about how to access funding stream at the event, said: “As part of the AHSN NENC’s Medicines Optimisation programme, we’re keen to support projects which ensure patients receive support to take their medicines both in the community and after leaving hospital. This conference provided the ideal opportunity to hear from and meet pharmacy peers from across the region who are undertaking some innovative research projects. We’re delighted to have supported the event and are thrilled that it has been such a success.”

Breakout sessions included talks on collaborative workplace learning, antimicrobials in clinically futile situations, Acute Kidney Injury management in primary care, teaching children to swallow tablet medication and more.

The conference was organised by the Great North Pharmacy Research Collaborative with support from the North School of Pharmacy and Medicines Optimisation and the Academic Health Science Network North East and North Cumbria. Further details on the event, which took place on Friday 5th July, can be found at: