Introducing Gisela Abbam, our new Chair of Council

Hello, I’m Gisela Abbam and I wanted to introduce myself as the new Chair of the GPhC.

May 2022

I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you a bit more about myself, why I think pharmacy and all those who work in it are so important, and what my priorities are for the next few years.

Firstly though, let me give you a bit of background on how I got here. Unfortunately, a number of years ago I was unwell and ended up paying for private healthcare for the detection and treatment of my illness. This led to the removal of one of my kidneys due to late diagnosis of severe endometriosis. Fortunately, I am fit and well now - minus a kidney - so I look after my health as a result. 

This experience inspired me to work in the health and life sciences sector, and specifically to become a global health advocate for the prioritisation of health and early diagnosis and treatment. 

My career from that point spanned working in Public Health and being part of the leadership team that set up the Centre for Public Health and NICE, to establishing a global function in over 100 countries for General Electric Healthcare, a global medical technology company. My last position was Chair of the British Science Association.

The importance of pharmacy in public health

The last 2 years of COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of pharmacy in relation to public health. Community pharmacists not only remained accessible during this period but were at the forefront of delivering vital services to keep everyone safe, such as the rollout of the vaccination programme. Furthermore, community pharmacists supported local residents through one of the worst public health crises in decades.

However, in all my national and global work in public health I found that the “voices” of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians were largely missing, despite the important and critical role played in achieving public health for all. 

Why the GPhC?

I believe the role the GPhC plays in regulating pharmacy and the pharmacy profession at large is vital in ensuring pharmacy is an integral part of the healthcare system across all countries in the United Kingdom. I am excited to work with such talented, dedicated and passionate staff led by Duncan, who continued business as usual during the pandemic and adapted to meet the needs of the profession and the public.  

In working towards our Vision 2030 of safe and effective pharmacy care at the heart of healthier communities, I have 4 key priorities:

1.Education and training

With the enhanced clinical services and independent prescribing this is an opportunity for the pharmacy profession to provide more services for the public; but it also has its challenges within the context of the broader healthcare system.

2. Regulatory reform

We share the Government’s aim of ensuring healthcare regulation is faster, fairer and more flexible - so we can further improve how we manage fitness to practise and can be agile and responsive to developments like the expansion of pharmacist independent prescribing.

3. Broader stakeholder engagement to create awareness of the role of GPHC in relation to achieving integrated healthcare

Working with other health organisations through sharing of data, working through issues such as access to patient records to ensure patient safety and quality services for patients and the public.

4. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

Embedding considerations of equality, diversity, and inclusion in all aspects of our work as a regulator and as an employer.

Finally, let me say I feel really privileged to be here at such an exciting time for pharmacy and how much I am looking forward to supporting the great work being done by the GPhC.

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