“Welcome to my website, which includes information
to support my candidacy for the
English Pharmacy Board of the RPSGB .”

Professor Nick Barber

Department of Practice and Policy
The School of Pharmacy
MezzanineFloor, BMA House
Tavistock Square
London WC1H 9JP



I studied pharmacy at Bradford and went straight on to a PhD in the Clinical Pharmacology Department of the Royal Postgraduate Medical School. After two years my supervisor moved to Glasgow University and I moved with him, spending a very happy year in the Department of Materia Medica at Stobhill Hospital. A lectureship in pharmacology followed, at Chelsea College. However this was the early 1980’s and cuts were coming in higher education. I decided, at the grand age of 28, to take voluntary redundancy and start my pre-registration training, which was at Redhill Hospital and St Georges (where I met my wife).

Following registration I was briefly at St Thomas’ Hospital before becoming an education and training pharmacist for NW Thames Region. I learned a lot in that post, and ran many courses for pharmacists and technicians; I also ran the dispensary at St Stephen’s Hospital a day a week. In 1985 I ran the small pharmacy at the National Heart Hospital, a thoroughly enjoyable, clinically intense environment where we were very much part of the clinical team. I was managed from the Brompton Hospital and it was in this period that I first got engaged with specifications for computerised prescribing, an area I am still actively researching! In 1987 I became principal pharmacist for Oldchurch Hospital in Romford, under Adrian Shafford. Running a pharmacy of around 70 staff across three hospitals, under the excellent mentorship of Adrian, taught me a great deal about practical management.

In 1990 I became the NW Thames Director of Clinical Pharmacy Services and a Senior Lecturer at The School of Pharmacy, University of London, where I was responsible for running an MSc in Clinical Pharmacy. In 1992 the School advertised, and eventually I was appointed to, a new post: Professor of the Practice of Pharmacy.

Current position

I am a Professor in the Department of Practice and Policy at the School, and a Visiting Professor in Patient Safety at Harvard Medical School. We are now one of the largest Pharmacy Practice research groups in the world, including seven professors and around 20 PhD students. I stood down as Head of Department when I was elected to Council. You can find out more about the department at www.pharmacy.ac.uk.

My research

I have always been driven to make the world a better place for patients who take medicines. I believe this is a fundamental role for pharmacy. In order to understand what we should do I think it is important to understand what is wrong with things at present, so my work usually starts by seeking understanding by studying what people (patients, pharmacists, doctors etc) do. The next stage is to establish how things could be better, then to introduce and evaluate services which should achieve this end.  Funding usually follows.

My work on pharmacists’ interventions in the early 1990’s convinced me that we were recreating the prescribing role, so I started studying prescribing, both the philosophy and the practicality. My research on doctor-patient communication in the consultation (published in the BMJ and elsewhere) is still my most cited work in the medical literature. This also led to research into prescribing error, other medication errors, and non-adherence. Two of my most quoted papers in the field of medication error are a qualitative paper on why doctors made prescribing errors, published in the Lancet in 2002, and work on the prevalence of intravenous errors, published in the BMJ. A constant strand of my research has been in evaluating the role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in improving (or not) the safety, effectiveness and efficiency of the use of medicines. Finally, I have been promoting and studying professional values, ethics and the pharmacist for many years and have recently co-authored a study on pharmacists’ values.

More recently my work has led, or appears to be leading, to changes in policy.  Work showing the cost effectiveness of a phone support service by community pharmacists for patients starting a new medicine for a chronic condition was adopted in the Pharmacy White Paper; I am hopeful it will become a service funded by PCTs. Our work on medication errors in care homes received a lots of media attention recently (I even appeared on the Today programme), and we are still discussing with government departments how this could be taken forward.  My current work is predominantly around the evaluation (including safety) of new technologies, and in ways of bringing together safety science and new pharmacy services. My experiences in hospital research showed me that the best way to get funding was to show that something was unsafe, and that pharmacists could make it safer.

My current major research projects are listed below. All are multidisciplinary projects with multiple institutions; they are real team efforts, however here I just present the gist of them and the institutions without mentioning all the applicants on the grant. Many are with my colleague, Professor Bryony Franklin.

An account of my past research, and my views, can best be gleaned from my papers; I include recent peer reviewed publications below in case you are interested, or have difficulty sleeping. I have not included reports, articles, or books, but I am co-editor of Churchill’s pocket book in Clinical Pharmacy and am co-editing a book on Rational Prescribing for Oxford University Press.

Council and other Committee work

As well as being an elected member of Council, I was also elected to be the fourth officer earlier this year (the other three officers being the president, vice president and treasurer). This has given me not only an intimate insight into the complexities of running the RPSGB, and serving members, but also a real capacity to positively influence people.  I also sit on the education committee and have been part of the search team for the new CEO of the RPSGB. I am also a trustee of PTECO, a pharmacy charity dedicated to education and research, which receives funding from the RPSGB, and have been nominated to be a governor of the College of pharmacy practice.

I sit on Medical Education England (MEE, an independent committee which advises the secretary of state for health on education and workforce issues in medicine and pharmacy).  I'm on the management board of modernising pharmacy careers, a subgroup of MEE, which is reviewing all aspects of undergraduate and postgraduate education for pharmacists and technicians. I am also on the board of the Pharmaceutical Press, a very profitable company which publishes, amongst other things, the Pharmaceutical Journal, the BNF, and Martindale.

Outside the world of pharmacy I sit on the management board of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and on their audit committee, staff performance review and remuneration committees.

And outside work…

I live in Ealing, W London with my wife, Ann Jacklin, and our 17 year old daughter. My wife, another pharmacist, is the Chief of Service for Pharmacy and Therapies at Imperial College Healthcare Trust. As I am now in my 50’s I have given up the motorcycling and martial arts, however I still enjoy exercise, which is just as well as my other interests are food, beer and wine.

Some examples of my research

Last updated: 14-Dec-09