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Award for ‘hero’ pharmacist who helped epileptic passenger on flight

A former community pharmacist has won a “healthcare hero” award after keeping a man suffering a seizure safe on a flight to Cyprus.

A Dudley pharmacist has won a healthcare award after providing urgent medical care and support to an elderly passenger suffering from an epileptic fit during a flight to Cyprus, the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust announced yesterday (July 25).


Stephen Payne, lead pharmacist for cancer and preparative services at the trust and a former community pharmacist, was travelling to Cyprus for a family holiday when fellow passenger Alan Brettell started to suffer a seizure an hour into the flight, it said.


Read more: Who gets your vote? Meet the pharmacy professionals going the extra mile


With the help of Mr Brettel’s wife Rose, a former nurse in Dudley and the Black Country, Mr Payne held 73-year-old Mr Brettel and kept him “safe from harm” until the plane landed two hours later, staying with him until Cypriot emergency services could attend to him, it added.


The trust awarded Mr Payne its “healthcare hero” award for July 2023 in honour of his actions that went “above and beyond” his role, with the award presented to Mr Payne by Mr Brettel himself, it said.



“Wonderful coincidence”



While Mr Brettel has had epilepsy since childhood, he does not usually suffer from seizures, according to the trust.


Mr Brettel said that it was “such a wonderful coincidence” that the pharmacist was on the flight from Birmingham to Cyprus, adding that “even at 20,000 feet NHS workers are always ready to help”.


Read more: The independent pharmacy group with an army of vaccinators


Mrs Brettel added that it was “incredible” luck that they were seated near “a former colleague from Russells Hall Hospital”.


She said that they will “always be grateful” to Mr Payne and that they still managed to enjoy their holiday thanks to him.


Read more: The quick-thinking pharmacist who saved a patient in anaphylactic shock


Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Diane Wake said that Mr Payne’s actions were “fantastic”.


“Not only does it show what a great healthcare professional he is, but also what a wonderful human being,” she said.



Above and beyond


It comes as voting for the Above and Beyond category of the C+D Awards 2023 is open until Monday (July 31). 


This year, there are six nominees in each of the individual and team categories, which celebrate pharmacists and pharmacy staff going the extra mile for their patients, their team and for the sector.


Nominees have helped in medical emergencies, distributed huge amounts of food and drink to families in need and sourced emergency medication for a patient with Parkinson’s, among many other incredible stories.


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