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Tribute to Nigel Hughes

It was with great sadness that the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) West Yorkshire Local Practice Forum (WYLPF) steering group learnt that a great colleague and friend, Nigel Hughes, had passed away unexpectedly on 5 January 2017. Nigel was awarded a well-deserved Synergy Award in 2016 for his outstanding contribution to the pharmacy profession as a non-pharmacist.

Robbie Turner, outgoing chief executive of Community Pharmacy West Yorkshire (CPWY) and the newly appointed director of England at the RPS, summed up everyone’s feelings in his personal tribute to Nigel.

“He was well-loved, admired and respected by the many people he got to know locally and nationally throughout his time with CPWY, building on his previous career in health services across West Yorkshire. A nurse by background, Nigel was a loved and valued member of the CPWY team in his role as head of public health and engagement and was instrumental in pushing forward the role of community pharmacy both within West Yorkshire and nationally.”

Nigel was viewed by many as an ‘honorary pharmacist’ owing to the outstanding commitment to his work in developing the pharmacy profession notably the rolling out of a network of healthy living pharmacies (HLPs) in the West Yorkshire area. The pharmacy profession has lost one of their greatest advocates. He will be missed very much by me and all who knew and worked with him. Our thoughts are with his family and colleagues at CPWY.

It has been a privilege to work with him in a collaborative capacity for the past five years. Nigel made a difference. He was a regular presenter at WYLPF events over the years and an inspiration to undergraduate pharmacy students at the Universities of Huddersfield and Bradford. He contributed to developing their interest in public health and was a popular visiting presenter on the public health module at the University of Huddersfield, using his wide network of contacts to the benefit of students. Working with the WYLPF pharmacy student’s public health group to deliver public health campaigns, he encouraged them to come to his CPWY Development Academy events which allowed them to meet pharmacy contractors and all of their staff. The pharmacy students relished the quality of the training provided and held Nigel in very high regard.

It is not surprising that Nigel won many awards for his work, most recently an award for the ‘Making time’ project which was organised by the NHS Leeds North Clinical Commissioning Group and CPWY. It is aimed at making sure people with learning disabilities get the best service they can from their local pharmacy, which is in line with the RPS goals of supporting long-term conditions. This is an example of Nigel’s excellent working relationships locally, not only with WYLPF, but with commissioners, the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education and the local professional network. Nationally, he was well known by many senior members of the profession for his work in pharmacy and public health.

Deborah Evans, a member of the RPS English Pharmacy Board and Healthy Living Pharmacy innovator, says of Nigel: “We all benefited from his insights and contributions. [This is a] very tragic and sad loss for his family, friends and the pharmacy and public health community. He was always so positive, enthusiastic and determined. He truly thought only of the possibilities, never letting the words ‘difficult’ or ‘impossible’ enter into his head; he was an inspiration. From his very first involvement with HLP, he was committed to success and taking it to new heights for his West Yorkshire contractors. [He will be] truly missed.”

Mike Holden, one of the founders of the Healthy Living Pharmacy initiative and former chief executive of the National Pharmacy Association, agrees: “Nigel was a gentleman and his passion for what pharmacy can, and does, do for the health and well-being of the nation and his support in championing Healthy Living Pharmacies should not go without record.”

Ash Soni, immediate past president of the RPS, has also paid tribute to Nigel and describes him as an inspiration. “[His death] is a massive loss to pharmacy and to improving the public’s health. My deepest condolences go to his family.

“I will personally miss him as someone who I looked to for support and inspiration. His loss will be felt particularly in West Yorkshire but will have an impact nationally.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20202294

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