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Royal Marsden Chief Pharmacist awarded MBE in Queen’s Honours

Jatinder Harchowal has been awarded an MBE for his work during the COVID-19 pandemic and services to the pharmaceutical profession.

09 October 2020

Jatinder Harchowal, Chief Pharmacist and Head of Quality Improvement at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and Director of Pharmacy at The NHS Nightingale hospital

The list was due to be published in June but was postponed to enable nominations of those who went above and beyond in the early months of the response to COVID-19. Jatinder is among a special group of key workers who are being recognised for stepping up amid the crisis.

Jatinder has worked in the NHS for 30 years, been a Chief Pharmacist for over 16 years and has been Chief Pharmacist at The Royal Marsden for six years, leading a team of 200 staff to support the care of cancer patients. In March, Jatinder was seconded to help lead the setup of the first NHS Nightingale hospital as Director of Pharmacy, in London’s ExCel Centre- the first of seven Nightingale field hospitals established by NHS England to provide additional intensive care capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jatinder spent eight weeks away from home ensuring the Nightingale was set up to safely deliver care to seriously ill COVID patients, working with a multi-disciplinary team in often difficult and stressful situations to provide the best possible care for patients.

On his return to The Royal Marsden, he became lead for the Cancer Hub which was established at the height of the pandemic to provide cancer patients whose operations weren’t possible at their local hospitals to access the surgery they needed elsewhere. Working with local cancer alliance RM Partners and the independent sector, the Cancer Hub has since provided surgery for almost 3,000 patients from all over the country.  

In his role as Chief Pharmacist at The Royal Marsden, Jatinder has led on a ground-breaking project to increase the adoption of a new generation of biosimilars across England - ‘copycat’ drugs that could save the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds while providing the same benefits for patients. The Royal Marsden was one of the first UK trusts to switch to the biosimilar of rituximab (also known as Mabthera), an important drug for treating blood cancers. Within months, 80 per cent of eligible patients across England had been switched to this biosimilar which helped the NHS save up to £100 million a year.

I am incredibly honoured, humbled and proud to be receiving this award. I’m also particularly proud that this award recognises the important work of pharmacists and the pharmacy teams in the NHS.

Jatinder Harchowal, Chief Pharmacist and Head of Quality Improvement at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and Director of Pharmacy at The NHS Nightingale hospital

In addition to his clinical work, Jatinder is also a passionate believer in developing others into future leaders and coaching those from BAME backgrounds into senior leadership positions and has recently been appointed Chair of a new male BAME forum.

Jatinder said: “I am incredibly honoured, humbled and proud to be receiving this award. I’m proud of what the whole team at the Nightingale achieved together and how all of London came together during the pandemic. I’m hugely grateful for the support that Cally and The Royal Marsden team gave me during my secondment in the Nightingale and allowing me on my return to play a part in The Royal Marsden Cancer Hub to help as many patients as possible access the cancer surgery they needed.  I’m also particularly proud that this award recognises the important work of pharmacists and the pharmacy teams in the NHS. I couldn’t have done any of it without the support of my colleagues at the Nightingale, The Royal Marsden and my family.”