Career Blog

Career Blog

Alison Barr, a Principal Pharmacist for Intellectual and Developmental Disability and Autism for Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust shares her career story and what led her to her current role.


Photo of Alison Barr

I thoroughly enjoy my role working for Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. My work involves not only shaping services in collaboration with colleagues and service providers, but also working directly with patients which ensures I keep up to date with what patients really need.  

Through my career I have covered most general hospital pharmacist roles, from Intensive Care to Cardiology, even spending some time as a Specialist Neonatal Intensive Care Pharmacist.

However, I’d developed a passion for working in mental health whilst a student. Once I felt I had grabbed every opportunity for learning in acute general hospital care, I moved on to become a mental health specialist pharmacist.

This role really made a difference to me. For once I was able to follow a patient’s journey right from hospital admission and beyond into their care in community. My specialist knowledge helped shape life changing decisions about care that were valued beyond measure by patients. I felt humbled to be part of their recovery as they took tentative steps towards a normality of life that you and I might take for granted.

Some patients had learning disabilities and this cohort of patients stole my heart. I saw the daily challenges that life brings for them, carers too, but also saw a great opportunity to change lives. I became proud to be part of the national STOMP initiative, actively reviewing psychotropic prescriptions and ensuring that only those patients who really need psychotropic medicines are prescribed them.

This feeling of fulfilment is what led me to the role I have today. I wanted to do more for my learning disability patients. I wanted to be part of the decision making around service provision. I knew what my patients needed, and I also knew what we needed to do as an NHS provider to change lives. I wanted to be part of that, but I still wanted to keep an active role as a pharmacist prescriber.

So in this role I get to do both. My patient facing role draws on every aspect of my learning, as my patients often have multiple, challenging co-morbidities. This keeps my clinical skills sharp and focussed….and it means I still get to see patients and their families.

But I also get to lead on organisational change.

I have input into how we shape and deliver local services to ensure that patients really are at the heart of all we do. I’m on the STOMP committee for Nottingham and I’m Trust Lead for Intellectual Disability and Autism in our large hospital foundation Trust. I also advise staff in carrying out STOMP reviews within the local Primary Care Networks and provide support to other healthcare services with valuable audit projects within Intellectual Developmental Disability and Autistic patient groups.

All in all, I’d say I have a pretty awesome job, which becomes more fulfilling every day!



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