Matt Butler, resident Pharmacist

Did you always want to be a pharmacist?

I actually wanted to be a pilot when I was growing up! However, when I did my A-levels, I became more interested in medicine, and ended up deciding I wanted to be a pharmacist. Right from the start, I’ve always been interested in the fact that patients never really understood how the medicines they were given worked, or why they were important – so I wanted to play a part in improving that.

What does your role as a pharmacist normally involve?

Like most pharmacists, I spend a lot of time on the wards, providing advice to our clinicians on prescribing. I also talk to patients about their medication; either regarding medication they are taking secondary to their admission, or regarding medication they have for their more chronic conditions. This work helps ensure patients are managed effectively during their time in hospital, and it also gives patients a chance to ask any question they may have, and feel empowered to be more compliant with their treatment. I also work with the ward teams to ensure they have the right stock, and provide advice to any member of staff who needs me really!

What do you like about your job?

One of the good things about being a pharmacist is working as part of a multi-disciplinary team. I also really like talking to patients, and helping them – the medication decisions we take aren’t just about addressing a patient’s medical needs, it’s also thinking through how it will impact their social life, their careers, and overall quality of life.

How has your role changed as a result of Covid-19?

Our roles have changed a lot. I spend a lot of time working with wards who are caring for Covid positive patients. Many patients that have tested positive for Covid-19 are managing their symptoms well, and actually just want to get home! Equally, what we are also seeing is some patients with Covid-19 deteriorating quite quickly, so pharmacists – like all teams – are having to adapt to that, and change treatment management plans very rapidly. A lot of our Covid-19 patients are not in ITU, so they read the news like everyone else, which creates anxiety – so we are having to do a lot of reassurance as well.

How are staff and colleagues coping with the changes that come with Covid-19?

I think the mood amongst pharmacists, and the rest of the staff, is pretty good. Many staff on the ward have actually moved to temporary accommodation away from their families – so the hospital has even more of a family feel than it normally does. We all talk, reassure each other, and just talk openly about worries we have regardless of the role you are undertaking. The support from the public has been fantastic – I took part in the NHS clap last week, and the daughter of one of my neighbours gave me home made cookies because I work for the NHS, so that was a nice bonus as well!