How would you describe your pharmacy?
My pharmacy is an independent pharmacy located near the city centre in Cardiff. It has been established for 26 years and has developed a strong and loyal customer base.
Our team of fully qualified and registered healthcare professionals have considerable expertise and experience in providing support for patients and helping them with their medicines. We offer a complete range of services, from the dispensing of NHS and private prescriptions, to a free and personal medicines health check in our private consultation area.
Central Pharmacy also offers a prescription ordering, collection and delivery service, together with a specialised service that is designed to support patients leaving hospital care.
The pharmacy fulfils a full range of medicine, healthcare equipment and first aid requirements and provides a broad spectrum of services to support patients living with longer term conditions.
Our healthcare team recognise that many of our customers require support in leading healthier lifestyles, and have designed an entire complement of programmes. These include stop smoking assistance, health MOTs and weight management.
In addition, we offer a full range of sexual health services including dysfunction support and a free and confidential service for the supply of the morning after pill.
How long have you been a pharmacist?
I studied at the Welsh School of Pharmacy in Cardiff, qualifying in 1973 with a 2.1. I worked for Boots in senior management until 1983.
Describe the area your pharmacy is in
The pharmacy is located in the Roath area of Cardiff. Its main shopping streets are Albany Road, City Road and Wellfield Road where the pharmacy is located. The area is characterised by its several tree-lined avenues and Victorian era terraced streets.
Roath houses a very diverse population including a large number of students, being very close to the main university campuses, a large ethnic minority population and many young professionals. Parts of Roath are among the most affluent districts of Cardiff, although subdivision of the large Victorian properties is starting to occur in the areas at the south end of the district.
Its close proximity to the city centre, its number of local amenities, churches, shops and restaurants and public houses and the famous Roath Park make it a popular area to live
What is the best and worst things about being a pharmacist?
For me, the best thing about being a pharmacist is being in a position to provide practical and helpful advice and support to my patients, whether it is medicines related or to advice on making healthy lifestyle choices. My main frustration is that pharmacists today are too often called upon to manage paperwork and much of their time is being taken away from direct patient care.
Are pharmacists valued as healthcare professionals?
I know that the public really value the work of pharmacists even though many of them do not understand the extended services available from pharmacies today perhaps this is something that we as a profession should be taking action on.
I am, however, less convinced that the work of pharmacists is truly recognised and appreciated by the NHS. Too often pharmacists are not invited to sit on key policy making groups and are therefore not in a position to influence the developing agenda. In addition the current cost control focus of LHBs in Wales makes it more difficult for the NHS in Wales to move away from the traditional commissioning routes.
What is your advice on being a good pharmacist and running a good pharmacy?
Today’s world is really challenging for pharmacists as not only do they need to keep their professional knowledge up to date so that they can deliver extended services they also need to ensure that they have the skills to effectively manage their businesses.
Pharmacists need to be focused totally on three aspects of their business namely truly understanding and meeting the needs of their patients, seeking out new sources of revenue and managing the bottom line. Patient care is what pharmacy is all about.
How much do your sales depend on seasons and weather?
As my pharmacy is focused on health and beauty, I do not experience great seasonal fluctuations in the business apart from the usual increase in allergy and sun care in the summer and a sharp peak in the sales of premium cosmetics and fragrance during the Christmas period.
What is your view on funding and the role of the PSNC?
I think that PSNC have a thankless role and are the recipients of much of the frustration and anger being vented by contractors who are really struggling with the current squeeze on profitability. The real issue is the dynamics of the market that we operate in.
NHS services now account for the vast majority of our turnover. The NHS is the main purchaser of our services and the NHS is the NHS is committed to increase efficiency and drive down costs and so it is difficult to negotiate with a sole purchaser who has this mindset.
Community Pharmacists are delivering a lot more than we are being remunerated for. Pharmacists provide a very efficient, reliable and professional service.
What part of the business is the most challenging to work in?
I think the challenge comes across the board. There are no easy aspects of managing a pharmacy business at the moment and to be profitable independent businesses need to keep on top of all areas of the business. I am fortunate, I have an administration manager, which leaves the pharmacy team to look after patients and loved ones.
Do you ever get customers asking for products they have seen on TV that you know nothing about?
Now we get less visits from representatives, we are sometimes asked for information on products that we have not heard of or do not stock. With hundreds of thousands or products on the market it is not possible to have a working knowledge of all products.
When new products are requested it is important to decide whether these are isolated requests or a real retail opportunity before deciding whether to stock the product.
If you were to give up pharmacy tomorrow, what would you do?
I have a dedicated pharmacist manager, technicians and trained staff who support me in my business. My interests are very extensive and with a great family (two precious grandchildren…my lifeline!) and friends, I am fortunate to enjoy every single day. I hope it stays like this!