Vanessa Burgess

Chief Pharmacist
South East London CCG

Vanessa Burgess is the Chief Pharmacist of Southeast London CCG and Director of Long-Term Conditions in Lambeth. Having over 20 years’ experience in pharmacy leadership roles, Vanessa has developed and sustained effective and valued personal networks and relationships across the system and cross sector - locally, Southeast London wide, London and beyond.

She is recognised as someone who is able to work with others and secure collaborative, solution focused and shared approaches to transformation and improvement. Her key achievements are expanding the role of the medicines team into long term conditions commissioning in Lambeth and establishing one of the first Integrated Medicines Optimisation Committees to take a fully integrated pathway approach, involving people with lived experience in key pathway developments. Developing professional pharmacy careers has always been a passion and Vanessa established some of England’s first consultant pharmacist roles to work in primary and community care in the country. The role of joint covid-19 subject matter expert for pharmacy and system vaccination operations centre lead pharmacist during the pandemic was one of the most rewarding and challenging moments of her career. She convened the cross sector SEL pharmacy covid-19 cell with the task of developing the SEL strategic and operational medicines response and the vaccine programme, a role which required personal resilience and an ability to act effectively when under pressure.

A particular highlight was the development of a community pharmacy vaccine champions scheme to reduce inequalities in access to vaccination and provide outreach engagement activities by pharmacists. Vanessa chairs the SEL ICS pharmacy leadership team which has developed innovative approaches to pharmacy and medicines optimisation transformation, securing leadership to tackle overprescribing, antimicrobial stewardship and medicines value. She has fostered a compassionate leadership culture, with team members giving peer support in difficult times. She believes that “change travels at the speed of trust” so the leadership team has an open and transparent approach to its work, respecting different perspectives and views.

Vanessa also brings her own personal experience of the NHS during a family illness to her work, learning at first hand the importance of compassionate care, putting people at the heart of decisions and supporting families and carers. Vanessa is a long standing member of the NHS E/I Medicines Optimisation Clinical Reference Group, recently chairing a national working group on tariff excluded drugs with the aim of reducing bureaucracy and transactional approaches, developing more consistency across CCGs. In her spare time Vanessa enjoys driving her convertible mini in the sunshine, spending time with family and friends, cooking (sometimes) delicious food and gardening to relax. Wish her luck in training for the 2022 London Marathon in support of the charity children with cancer, supported by her very cute and fluffy dog Fudge who also loves to run.