Quality vs. Sales in a GMP Environment

“Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) is the part of quality assurance which ensures that medicinal products are consistently produced and controlled to the quality standards appropriate to their intended use and as required by the marketing authorisation (MA) or product specification. GMP is concerned with both production and quality control.” (MHRA)


What really matters?
As a laboratory manager for several years, in various contract laboratories carrying out analysis of food, water and pharmaceuticals, my number one concern has always been Quality. Whether relating to government regulatory authority compliance or independent accreditation bodies, the standards required not only ensure public/patient safety but also provide consistency and a high level of understanding and integrity amongst the scientists carrying out the work, provided they’re trained correctly.

In a laboratory where the business depends on making a profit however, it can be quite a battle with senior management on a regular basis to explain why, for the scientists at least,  Quality will always take precedence over Sales.

This is not the kind of thing you can explain in a half hour chat over coffee with your MD. You could barely scratch the surface in a 2 hour presentation to the board. That’s because working in a GMP environment is one of those things you can’t really explain to those who simply don’t ‘get it’ or are simply too far away in terms of their role in the business.  It’s a way of life, a culture that is almost innate and becomes apparent in everything you do. The number of times I’ve been signing and dating a document at the bank and written the date wrong. The overwhelming urge to cross through, initial and date before rewriting is quite a force to try and resist! Some of you reading will be nodding with a knowing smile…because you get it!

Whenever I write about Quality (always with a capital ‘Q’) I am not talking about it on the same level that your average sales rep might understand it. I’m sure, in plenty of businesses it’s considered quite a skill to be able to know when one can compromise quality for the sake of sales. Taking shortcuts to quickly improve profit margins or temporarily dropping standards for the benefit of a faster turnaround. Timing and risk….I get it, when talking business. When talking Quality however, this is the thing,  Quality cannot and must not be compromised ever. Without it we have no business.

Making It Work
So, how to find a balance? It requires commitment, dedication, integrity and passion. What also helps is doing your utmost to understand the business perspective in order to communicate and work with the people whose job it is to get  the numbers in, in an effective way. Learn their language so you can teach them yours.


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Long time…..


……no blog posts!

Yes it’s been a while but I’ve been fairly full-on busy.  What with appeals for secondary school places (for my daughter, not me), successful by the way, yet another house move and finding an albeit temporary, job….writing has unfortunately taken a bit of a back seat.  I’ve missed it though!

Other important events I’ve been taking care of have been watching True Blood Season 4 – final episode on Sunday – and discovering new (to me) series!

I know I was a bit late to catch on but I finally got around to seeing the first two episodes of The Vampire Diaries which I LOVED! At first I thought it was going to be a bit of a teen drama thing but it really isn’t! Apart from all the actors portraying 17 year olds being at least 20….it actually has quite good story-lines, a gradual but not too slow introduction of new elements (and when I say elements I mean witches, werewolves etc), not tooooo much blood and gore and enough intrigue to have me watch the entire two seasons back to back in a 48 hour period!  I started watching with a definite plan to NOT try to compare it to True Blood but it really wasn’t an issue.  Despite the essence of both series being about vampires and other supernatural beings, they are totally different in every way.


Another serial show I managed to catch was V.  This is a remake of a series originally from the 70’s (I think!) and features some of the original characters. Again…..

REALLY good!  Little bit different, but still my favourite genre, sci-fi – and again – watched two seasons pretty much back to back!


I’ve started watching Lost Girl on Syfy channel but am still making my mind up as I’m only two episodes in. It’s something a bit different again though. About the Fae ‘community’. There are two sides, Dark and Light and focus around a woman who has an unfortunate habit of killing every man she sleeps with! She’s also got a tag-a-long sidekick who is human and was rescued by her after being date-rape drugged by a random loser in a bar.  I’ll write on on this as I watch it.

Very much looking forward to the new Sons of Anarchy. Apparently Season 3 didn’t go down too well with the viewers who weren’t keen on the baby-chase to Ireland. So, in light of this information, Season 4 promises to go back to the original style of the first two seasons.

Also on the horizon are Boardwalk Empire and Haven. Coming soon…..!



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True Blood 4 Episode 1 with video recap – **spoiler warning**!!

You’ve been warned ‘kay? So if you don’t wanna know, don’t read on!

I was tempted to save up all the episodes and have a marathon, like I did with seasons 1-3 but….I’m sooooo weak!

I watched episode 1 last night and was gutted when it ended – I have no doubt this feeling will haunt me on a weekly basis till the season ends – so many questions!

Gotta say I was really pleased with the first episode. It can’t be easy…making sure you give newcomers enough of a background to the storyline (3 seasons worth!) and also set the scene for the current season. So yeah, bearing that in mind, I was happy.

Very cleverly the writers have managed to manipulate a jump forward in time by having Sookie visit faerieland for what she thinks is a couple of hours. However everyone else back in Bon Temps think she’s been missing for a year. This was needed I think for a bit of breathing space after season 3 and to give the characters, who had been through a lot in a short-ish period, time to get back on their feet.

So Sook’s away with the faeries (literally) and it’s all striking her as a little weird, this paradise garden where everyone is chowing down on Lumiere fruit. She meets her ‘dead’ grandad who has been there 20 years but is convinced it’s only been a day.

To confirm her suspicions of this beautiful garden where everyone looks like a supermodel, she spots a weird ork-like looking creature and clicks on that this fruit is of the ‘forbidden’ variety and doesn’t eat any.  She psychically communicates her fears to her grandad but is overheard by mind-reading queen faerie Mab who is none too pleased to have been rumbled. Apparently everyone there is part of some harvesting project with the aim of eventually closing off faerieland from the rest of the human race.

There’s a bit of a fight, some running away and eventually Sookie and her grandad are pointed in the direction of a portal (by some renagade faerie) through which to return to Bon Temps.

Ok so….back in Bon Temps. Sookie returns to find that her house has been sold to a mystery buyer…..hmmmm! Jason is a fully fledged cop with a uniform and e v e r y t h i n g and is still taking care of the Hot Shot folk (who kindly show their gratitude by locking him in a freezer (!).  Andy has a serious V habit, Lafayette has a cool new ‘do’ and boyfriend Jesus is getting him into witchcrafty stuff, the head witch seems to think there’s something a bit ‘special’ about Lafayette, Tara is now ‘Toni’ living in New Orleans with her girlfriend and cage-fighting to pay the rent, Bill Compton has planted his bum in Russell Edgingtons throne as the new King and Eric is trying to lure humans into Fangtasia in an attempt to further integrate vampires and humans.

Hoyt and Jessica have been living together a year and are having the normal ‘honeymoon-period-is-definitely-OVER’ tiffs. Jess appears a bit bored of the whole human lifestyle and is getting urges to hunt.  Hoyt’s mamma seems to have adopted Tommy (to keep her busy since Hoyt and Jess still don’t speak to her) and is trying to guide him on the straight and narrow whilst his older brother Sam is taking anger-management classes…he says. Turns out he meets up with a few other shifters and they all have dinner, drinks then strip off, turn into horses and go for a canter! Arlene’s baby is showing definite homicidal tendencies – according to Arlene – because he ripped off the heads of some Barbie dolls! She is convinced he’s going to grow up just like his father Rene.

Turns out the buyer of Sookie’s house was Eric so that in owning the house he also owns her as she can’t resend any invitations to enter his own property! Interesting though was that whilst Bill thought her dead, Eric was always sure Sookie was alive, hence investing in the house.  Sookie gets Portia Bellefleur to act as her solicitor to revoke the offer/sale of the house and overhears Portia thinking about Bill.  Seems they’ve been ‘hanging out’ a fair bit….not sure how far their relationship has gone though.

Roll on episode 2!

So….if you’ve read all that then there’s absolutely no harm in watching the video recap by clicking on the link below…nothing I haven’t already told you!

True Blood 4 episode 1 recap **spoiler**

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Starting secondary school – top tips!

It’s a daunting time right now as my daughter and I approach the end of primary school and prepare to make what feels like a HUGE leap to secondary school.

She’s been at the same school since she was 4 years old. A lovely school with a great reputation for wonderful teachers and strong parent-teacher relationships. She’s had the same familiar faces around her, the same friends, a well-travelled route to and from school and right now, in the final few weeks, I suddenly realise just how big and comfortable that particular security blanket has been….for both of us!

I’m not an idiot. I do recognise that we have to let out children grow up. In fact since before my two were even born I’ve always been looking forward to what was coming next as opposed to some parents I know who dread it. The joy you get from watching them grow and come into their own personalities with their unique senses of humour and perspectives on various things…it’s consistently amazing and unpredictable. In a good way!

However, the ‘daunting’ bit is making sure they stay that way. Continually growing and developing. Safely.

Definitely NOT something I worried about myself starting secondary school. Of course not – I was 11. Unaware of how tough things can be in a somewhat less protective environment than primary school because it is, quite rightly, time for our children to learn new skills particularly concerning dealing with new social situations. Learning how to handle difficult scenarios without mum and dad there all the time for protection. I specifically remember learning how to think on my feet and talk my way out of trouble (thanks to inheriting my mothers smart mouth! ;) ).

Then there’s the very different and more intense work routine, which can come as a bit of a shock after primary school. Homework is a lot more organised, lessons a lot more structured and more is expected of our children all-round. It’s up to us as parents to encourage them to step-up to these expectations and get the absolute best out of school for the short time that they’re there without making them terrified of it and making it an enjoyable time for them.

There are lots of things to consider as the parent but I think it’s incredibly important to minimise this kind of stress for the children. The best way to do this is to minimise it for ourselves. This means being organised and prepared, which has the added bonus of setting a great example for our children to do the same.

So to prepare my daughter for what lies ahead I’ve been thinking hard about getting organised and prepared….This is my list of Top 5’s to try and make things as easy as possible for parents and children alike but remember – this is YOUR list – not the child’s. As long as you are sorted, calm, organised it makes it so much easier for things to fall into place for your child.

Before the First Day

1.  Don’t let your child see that you’re anxious – they’ve got their own worries and need to feel able come to you for support.

2.  Reassure your child that all the other children starting that day will be feeling just the same as them.

3.  Try and arrange a school visit before start of term to familiarise them with the layout – many schools arrange this anyway.

4.  Make sure your child has everything they need well in advance – uniform, p.e. kit etc, so they’re not at a disadvantage from Day One.

5.  If you can’t actually take or pick up your child to and from school, at least for the first week, make sure they’re familiar with the safest route by doing some practice runs.

During the First Weeks

1.  Don’t be late. Make sure your child has a regular alarm for a time reasonable and early enough to have some breakfast and set off in plenty of time. Don’t make them gain a reputation for being ‘the one who’s always late’. It goes without saying I think to make sure uniform, school bag and lunch arrangements are all sorted the night before.

2.  Be prepared for a settling in period. Behavioural changes can occur such as resorting to being more babyish, quick to tears or tantrums…they’re just dealing with the stress of a new environment – be understanding and patient, it will pass.

3.  Make your child aware of who is head of Pastoral Care at school so they know where to go with any problems.

4.  Homework gets more serious very quickly than it ever was at primary school. Make sure you have a routine which works best for your child. Whether it’s sitting down to complete it straight after school or before bedtime….whichever is most comfortable for them to get the best effort out of them. However, if they’re doing it straight after school it’s important to have a snack and drink on hand…most children are ravenous straight after a hard days work!

After Settling In – Going It Alone

1.  When your child has settled and is going to and from school alone, make sure they are alert to traffic rules if cycling.

2.  If they walk to school it’s important to walk confidently, like they have a destination and not be engrossed in their mobile phone or have their i-Pod playing too loud to be aware of who’s around them.

3.  If they’re taking the bus, advise your child not to sit at the back or the top of the bus – stomping ground for trouble-makers!

4.  If your child gets lost on the way home or feels in danger, encourage them to head into a shop and speak to a member of staff about calling you to collect them. (I actually did this when I ran away from school once and got lost – had to head into a florists and have them call my mum! Doh! – so embarrassing!)

5.  Make sure your childs mobile phone is always charged. Simple way is to get into the habit of plugging it in as soon as they get home and leaving that charger in the same socket all the time. Have a bolt-on set up so that they can always call or text you for free – whether they have credit or not. It’s handy too if they can commit your number to memory.

There are also some great books I would recommend keeping handy throughout the first year of secondary school such as:

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Guitar Discount – £50 off Gibson Les Paul

Gibson Les Paul guitars have been on the market since taking the world by storm in 1952 and continue to be an iconic brand.  Even now, decades later, the design is pretty much unchanged – if it ain’t broke and all that – and the sound quality and craftsmanship loved by musicians from all genres.

My first ever electric guitar was a Gibson Les Paul copy (well I was 12 and my parents weren’t sure I’d keep it up!) in traditional style not too dissimilar to this one…

…which I loved. I loved it so much that it took me till only a couple of years ago to let go and hand it down to my now 16 year old son.  Despite having bought him Ibanez and B.C. Rich guitars over the years (it’s worth it he’s incredibly talented) he too loves the Gibson even though it is a copy and couldn’t wait to get his hands on it.

However…I miss it. So I’ve been looking around to replace it and this particular guitar has caught my eye. Its a Gibson Les Paul in Satin Ebony and it’s beautiful!

This guitar is a mahogany body which is jet black all over (the clue’s in the name!) with a 22 fret rosewood neck. Ebony is used for the pick guard, knobs, jack plate and toggle switch. The pickups are the 490R and 498T, much loved Gibson favourites. The tone is a well-balanced one of full lows and ‘velvety’ highs.

It’s worth having a look just to admire if nothing else but, if you decide you must have one it’s currently going for £699.

However by entering this code GBLP50 you can expect a £50 reduction on this at the checkout!


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Joe Browns 60% sale!!

Yay…I believe I have mentioned my love of all things Joe Brown in an earlier post but I think it is only fair to make sure everybody knows about their latest sale!

I was actually waiting for summer to start before stocking up my summer wardrobe but going by the last few weeks I think it’s probably best to get on it NOW in case we continue to get random days (or half days!) when I can actually wear summer gear!

So, as usual JB’s is the first place I go and was very happy to see they’ve got a 60% sale on…result! Okay I know they do a lot of sales but I never take this kind of bonus for granted so it’s always a lovely surprise!

I’ve already picked out all my summer dresses, tops and jeans as well as sandals and gorgeous accessories to match. I suggest getting there quick though because the best stuff doesn’t hang about!

A little peek at some of the items in the sale!



Before today the four items above would have cost me £102.80 but with the sale thats now on it’s only going to set me back £60.80!!

Be daft not too really! ;)





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It gets better and better!

Well I was quite satisfied with Monday’s blog post justifying my treasured lie-ins…but wait! There’s more!

Not only have I a Licence To Sleep but, with absolutely no training required, I’ve got a Licence To Be Moody too! Wish I’d known this a few years earlier…

"I'm searching for some fancy medical terminology I can use to justify why I'm such a complete bitch."

…because it’s very scientific, which is of course, a language I understand and is difficult for others to argue with.

Basically it’s to do with serotonin levels. I’m sure we’ve all heard serotonin referred to as a ‘happy hormone’ (even though it’s not actually a hormone…it’s a neuro-transmitter!) and know that low levels of it can lead to depression. The number of women being treated for depression is much higher than that for men. Of course, there is probably some truth in the fact that the numbers of women being treated for depression may be down to the simple fact that they’re more likely to seek medical help, or talk to their girlfriends about it and be advised to go to the doctor by those friends.

Most of our serotonin is actually used for regulating intestinal functions- nice! But the small remainder is found in the central nervous system where it affects, amongst other things, mood.

The serotonin is taken up by cell receptors which allow neuro-transmitters, hormones etc in and out. So a double edged sword then. Not only do we need enough serotonin to be ‘happy’ but also enough cell receptors to take up as much as possible.

However men and women process serotonin slightly differently. Recent scientific research has found (using brain scans) that women have more serotonin receptors than men. Therefore, logically, need more serotonin. It should also be noted though, that where there is a deficiency of just about anything in the body, our cells open up as many receptors for whatever is lacking as possible in order to take up every last tiny bit that is available. So this could mean there was never enough serotonin in women and thats why we have more receptors.

For some people the answer is anti-depressants. Which is a medicine like any other as far as I’m concerned and solves a problem of deficiency, just like taking vitamin supplements. Some anti-depressants such as Prozac work by increasing serotonin in order for the receptors for it to have access to an optimum amount.

Then of course there’s the other reason for us women’s mood swings…the ACTUAL hormone ones. Oestrogen being the main culprit. The thing about oestrogen is that it also affects serotonin levels by stimulating the number of receptors for it in the brain – meaning during our monthly hormonal fluctuations we need even more!

What to do about it? We can actually help ourselves via our diets. Plenty wholegrain and fortified cereal gives us lots of B vitamins and magnesium which reduces stress hormone cortisol. The high carbohydrate content of these cereals also boosts the level of serotonin.

Of course exercise and sunlight are natural mood boosters, so getting outside for a walk or better still a run will actually do you the world of good – provided you’re not sooooo down that it’s hard to find the motivation to do it! Don’t diet though!! Restricting calories lowers tryptophan which is necessary for making serotonin.

Healthy eating and exercise – YES. Losing out on essential nutrients – NO.

Those chocolate cravings when you’re feeling grumpy?? Your body requesting ‘more carbs please’.

So feel free to indulge! ;)


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What The Hell Is Wrong With Chivalry?

The first thing to hit my, slightly sensitive ears today (after a little too much of the red stuff last night), was a tv Q&A about whether it’s sexist or not for a man to hold a door open for a woman. Really? I’m at a loss as to how this can be a problem for anyone.

Surely anyone can hold a door open for anyone? If I’m walking through a door and someone – man, woman or child – is only a few seconds behind me…I hold it open. It’s just simple good manners for crying out loud! I don’t deliberate over whether the other person will be offended by my politeness!! Just as I don’t worry about anyone being offended about me saying ‘please’ or ‘thank-you’.

I definitely consider myself a feminist, in my own interpretation of the word. I think it’s amazing how far women have come from as far back as having to fight and protest for a right to vote and beyond. I am and always will be full of respect, admiration and gratitude to all the women who have fought, sacrificed and even died for me to be living the kind of life that I live. Where I can make choices. I can choose if and when to have children. I can choose what kind of career I want. I can choose to be single, married or a serial dater. I can choose to vote for who I think should be running the country I live in.

Being a feminist however, does not mean that I forget that I’m a woman and possess all the beautiful, lovely, feminine traits that make me a woman. I have no desire to be genderless and not to be seen as a woman by anyone. If a man wants to hold a door open, give up his seat on the train, help me to my car with heavy bags, walk on the outside of the pavement or open a car door for me, then he is VERY welcome! These are lovely gestures and I think it must be incredibly hard for men these days to know where to put themselves when some women are reacting in a very rude way and taking offence.

Does this picture suggest in any way that the woman isn't a successful woman? In any area she chooses?

It’s not demeaning, sexist, patronising or anything else negative. For goodness sake! These acts are NICE. They are positive things in a world where people are increasingly horrible and rude to each other…don’t let this die out! Aren’t these gestures more borne out of respect and kindness? If you are a woman who finds these things sexist then I’m afraid YOU are the person who has the issue, the insecurity. You clearly don’t feel empowered enough as a women to be anything but paranoid about these gestures.

There are much bigger issues going on, particularly on a global level that women who want to fight for equal rights should be focusing on. Female circumcision, forced arranged marriages, honour killings etc etc. Get involved with THOSE things and stop complaining about men treating you nicely. You don’t know how lucky you are!

p.s. to the men who have considered being less chivalrous because of a few negative responses…..please don’t stop! Ignore them and know that there are plenty of women who appreciate and respect your courtesy and consideration. Me for a start! :D

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