A host of speakers, delegates and staff came together to celebrate 20 years of the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) providing advice on newly licensed medicines ensuring patients in Wales get quick and safe access to new medicines.
This Welsh Government advisory committee, supported by the All Wales Therapeutic and Toxicology Centre (AWTTC), has a wealth of experienced healthcare professionals including NHS consultants, scientists, pharmacists, clinical pharmacologists, general practitioners, health economists, pharmaceutical industry representatives and lay members who combine their expertise and knowledge to advise Welsh Government on medicines for use in NHS Wales.
AWMSG works to improve health outcomes from medicines for patients and optimise the use of medicines and subsequently improve health outcomes. During the day, we heard about the initiatives currently being rolled out across the country to improve patient care and the important role of AWMSG in developing guidance to ensure safe and effective prescribing across NHS Wales was highlighted.
During the conference, delegates heard from a wide range of speakers who were able to share their experiences of working in conjunction with AWMSG and highlight the positive impact this work is having. The current Chair of AWMSG, Professor Iolo Doull, opened the conference at the Cardiff City Stadium on November 17th by reflecting on the achievements of the last two decades, which includes issuing advice on more than 420 medicines.
Wales’ Health Minister Eluned Morgan, congratulated the organisation on their anniversary and complimented the work that is taking place in helping to make medicines available to Welsh patients.
Founder of AWMSG and AWTTC, Professor Phil Routledge, presented on ‘Effectiveness and Efficiency: 20 years of AWMSG’ and recounted his passion for the organisation.
Meindert Boysen, Head of International Affairs at NICE, Dr June Raine, Chief Executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Dr Richard Torbett, Chief Executive of ABPI and Professor Dyfrig Hughes, Chair of the National Pharmacogenomics Group, all gave insightful and motivating presentations about their work and involvement with AWMSG. An uplifting and passionate speech came from Jermaine Harris who spoke at the conference about the impact of medicines on his son Fraizer who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at just over three weeks old. The keen golfer, who is now seven, takes 50 tablets a day for his ‘super powers’ as the youngster calls them to control the condition. Jermaine spoke about his appreciation to AWMSG, NHS Wales, doctors and scientists – the decision makers who made it possible for his son to have this treatment allowing him to lead a normal life.
During the conference staff also remembered their talented, much-loved and missed colleague Nicola Wheatley. Dr Laurence Gray, Director of the National Poisons Information Service, paid a heartfelt and touching tribute to Nicola for her outstanding achievements and dedication to Toxicology.
The work of AWMSG was also on display through information posters and videos with staff on hand to demonstrate new initiatives such as the inhaler dashboard which is helping to support reduction of the carbon footprint from inhalers in Wales.
The Yellow Card Centre Wales also unveiled their new animated video of their mascot Charlie who explains why and how to report a suspected side effect to a medicine or a problem with a medical device.
The conference was brought to a close with a surprise performance from the Only Men Aloud choir who sang some classic Welsh hymns including Calon Lan and Cwm Rhondda as well as their version of the Electric Light Orchestra’s classic Mr Blue Sky.
As Professor Iolo Doull closed the day it was also a chance to look forward to the next 20 years and what work can be achieved in the future.
For more information on AWMSG and AWTTC visit awttc.nhs.wales