Services provided by the Pharmacy department

Pharmacy is defined as the study of medicines. It involves studying how medicines are discovered, developed and made. It also covers how medicines work in the body to prevent or treat disease, and how active ingredients can be made in to medicines.

Pharmacy at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH)

The department is divided into several parts: the dispensary, clinical services pharmacy, aseptic services section and medicines information.

The dispensary

This is the part of the Pharmacy department responsible for preparing and giving medicines to our patients. There are five steps to dealing with your child’s prescription, listed below.

When you hand in the prescription, we will ask you some questions about your child, for instance, preferences for medicine format, allergies and their weight.

Before it is dispensed, the prescription is clinically screened. That is, our pharmacist checks that the medicine prescribed will not interact with any other medicine your child is taking and that the dosage prescribed is correct for their age. The pharmacist will also check that the prescription is written correctly and contains all the information needed to dispense the medicine.

Once the prescription has been clinically screened, the medicine and any equipment needed to give it will be collected together. Some medicines have to be made up especially for your child so these may take a little longer to prepare.

The medicine is checked once more to ensure that the information on the medicine label is the same as on the prescription and then packed in a bag ready to be given to you or sent to your child’s ward.

When we give you your child’s medicine, we will ask you to confirm some of their details again to make sure that you are receiving the right medicines. We will explain each item to you, telling you how to give it and how often. You can also ask us any questions before you leave.

Clinical services pharmacy

Pharmacists work as part of our clinical teams on the wards. Some clinical specialties have their own specialist pharmacist who has developed detailed knowledge of the medicines used in that area of medicine.

Aseptic services section

This is where medicines are prepared in extremely clean conditions.

There are three sections within aseptic services: the cytotoxic unit making medicines for children with cancer or immune disorder, the CIVAS unit which is a centralised service responsible for drawing up medicines into syringes or infusion bags (such as intravenous antibiotics), and the total parenteral nutrition (TPN) unit making intravenous feeds.

Medicines information

Pharmacists in this department work closely with the clinical team, providing information and answering queries. They also work closely with other hospitals and community teams advising about medicines for children in general.

Quality assurance

Many medicines may be made within the pharmacy department, bought in as ‘specials’ or imported from abroad. The quality assurance team procedures ensure that they are fit for purpose. Before use these medicines need to be checked to ensure that they are of the desired quality and safe to use.


Medicines prescribed under the NHS are often purchased under national contracts so that the best possible price can be negotiated. Hospitals within London work closely together and GOSH also has to source many unusual medicines from the UK and worldwide.

Information systems

A department as complex as the Pharmacy relies on many computer systems to work efficiently and safely.

As well as helping to develop new systems such as Electronic Prescribing, specialist pharmacists and technicians are responsible for managing and supporting all the computer systems in use in the pharmacy including those for dispensing, stock control, production and financial reporting.

Information about medicines

The Pharmacy department at GOSH works hard to help children and families understand medicines. In collaboration with the Child and Family Information Group, we have produced many information sheets. These include general information about medicines: 
We also produce information sheets explaining the best way of giving children medicines in different formats listed below: Some of these are available as videos or audio podcasts.

For information on specific medicines used at GOSH, please visit the Medicines information section.