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Alan Ross

The recent death of Alan Ross deprives the profession of a pharmacist of exceptional qualities. Alan had a very distinguished career in hospital pharmacy and, following changes in the NHS, he made a major contribution to medicines management in nursing and care homes while advising three Family Health Services Authority general managers.

Alan was district pharmaceutical officer to Bolton, Bury and Rochdale Health Authorities from 1973 until his retirement in 1994. Following his retirement, Alan established a pharmaceutical and management consultancy.

In his role within the hospital sector, Alan was responsible for the pharmaceutical services provided by three district general hospitals, serving a population of more than 640,000 people. He championed the importance of good management practice in a complex service employing 75 members of staff and controlling a multimillion pound drug bill.

Alan had an innovative approach to pharmaceutical practice and the many challenges faced by the NHS. His research interests covered a wide range of topics and resulted in the publication of more than 50 papers. His approach to these projects was always meticulous, and he carried out the necessary work with rigour and imagination. Safe drug distribution systems were a priority, resulting in the development of the ‘Ross trolley’, and a publication in The Lancet. The other interests Alan worked on, to great effect, included, the use of computers, audit of services provided, evaluation of ward and clinical pharmacy services and the use of disinfectants in hospitals.

He was in demand as a speaker and tutor and, for a period of eight years, chaired a group which contributed to the national management course for principal pharmacists. Alan achieved an MSc in physical chemistry from the University of Salford in 1969. At the time, the late, great George Raine, then president of the Guild of Hospital Pharmacists (now the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists), congratulated Alan on pointing the way ahead for the future of hospital pharmacy. How right he was.

Alan was popular with his colleagues, always positive in his approach and never lacking a wry sense of humour. His work for the local branch of the Guild — in particular his organisation of the annual Shrove Tuesday formal dinner and dance — was well received. This was always a great occasion when the great and the good of the region relaxed and shared ideas and aspirations.

Beyond his full professional life, Alan was a dedicated and devoted family man with interests including photography, the countryside, walking and gardening.

We send our condolences to Nesta, Mandy, Martin and their wider family. They have lost a husband, father, grandfather and best friend.


Arthur and Barbara DH Williams 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20207586

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