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Clinical pharmacy at its best

By Neil Trainis

PUBLISHED: April 24, 2017 | UPDATED: April 24, 2017

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NHS England does not appear to view all pharmacists as ‘clinical,’ so we start a new series to highlight community pharmacy as its clinical best. This month we talk to Altaf Vaiya who runs Alpharm Chemist in Leicester…


It is evident that community pharmacy is constantly changing. With the latest pharmacy funding cuts, it has been difficult to see which direction pharmacy is heading towards.
Pharmacy businesses are having to do a lot more to keep their income stream flowing. Some have thought of down-sizing their teams whilst others are looking to build their team’s skill sets to help make them stronger. This would aid their team to be able to take on more responsibilities and increase the services they offer to patients.
The need to look at services that help bring added income to businesses away from main stream dispensing is crucial for sustaining pharmacy in the future. For this reason, in my pharmacy we have looked at key areas that have helped us use our knowledge to support our business.


Medicine Use Reviews
As a team, we have tried to identify patients who have a valid need for an MUR. We have looked at the medications they are taking, what issues they have had with their medications, and using our knowledge we have been able to explain the mode of action and use of their medications.
When sitting with patients and discussing the actual way their medications works, we have noticed that this has increased patients’ compliance to medications.
We have also noticed that with the increase in prescription medications being out of stock, an increasing number of patients are searching in as many pharmacies as they can. Here, we have been able to build rapport with these patients in many ways, such as trying to source the out-of-stock items for them or providing them with alternatives so that they can ask their surgeries to change them to it.
I believe this shows that we are concerned about the health and wellbeing of our patients. Nonetheless, this also helps build good professional rapports with the patients, leading to them becoming regular customers.


Over-the-counter medication
We have all read that the GPs are under pressure to prescribe medications that can be purchased over the counter. This has given pharmacy a great opportunity to more frequently use minor ailment schemes that they are currently involved in to show clinical skills.
However, even without minor ailment schemes, we have noticed that patients are being directed to pharmacies by surgery staff more. Therefore, by offering good advice, taking the time to listen to patients’ issues and having upskilled staff, we can see that patients start seeing pharmacy as a place that is not somewhere that they collect their medications from but a place that helps support their healthcare.
Furthermore, we have sought to increase services that we offer that would inevitably make a difference to patients’ health. Yes, we don’t get paid to do blood pressure checks, body mass index, blood sugar screening but these services allow us to engage with patients.
It gives pharmacy businesses increased value and an opportunity to sell products such as home blood pressure machines, weight loss products and home testing kits.
It is also important to look at existing services and when times get tough we must assess what is going well and what areas need improving.


Drug support service
We have noticed in our business that our drug support service (supervised drug treatment) is a good area where we could grow our business. Many people feel stigmatised when coming into a pharmacy and collecting their daily supervised dose of methadone.
For this reason, we always aim to make sure our service is more open and inclusive so patients who need to access this service feel respected.
Additionally, we have used our knowledge to explain the need to stick to prescribing regimes and reinforced positivity during their difficulties. This has helped us increase the interaction we have had with our patients and has helped reduced missed collections.


Needle exchange service
We have noticed an increase in our needle exchange service. Although, the payments of distributing the packs has reduced, there has been increase uptake of the service, especially with the increase in steroid use.
We continuously provide detailed advice on steroid use, the need to be safe when injecting, not sharing needles and the use of the exchange scheme.
It is important not to fear trying new things. Our pharmacy is in a very competitive area. We have no surgeries supporting us directly so we must keep taking risks and try taking part in all the new services on offer to please existing patients and help entice new patients.
There are a numerous number of services we have implemented over the years and continue to take part in. Many of us pharmacy managers and owners don’t like delegating but as pharmacy funding decreases we need to free up some of our time to use our knowledge to help direct our businesses to increased sustainability.
Also, with the quality payments scheme and the appointment of Healthy Living Champions, pharmacy businesses will have more opportunity to develop new in-house services.


When sitting with patients and discussing the way their medications works, we have noticed that this has increased patients’ compliance to medications.  

…Altaf Vaiya