Pharmacy First is a great way for pharmacy teams to demonstrate to the communities what pharmacies can do, and how we can take the pressure off GPs
Funding is the biggest challenge pharmacy operators face in the UK, and the situation has become extremely challenging now, says Nemesh Patel, Managing Director of the Southdowns Pharmacy Group, based in East Hampshire, while stressing on the need for an urgent funding uplift from the government.
During the pandemic, it was clear that pharmacies play an integral role in local communities, with it being the first port of call for many patients. However, the sector is struggling to deliver vital services due to insufficient funding.
“Without improved funding for dispensing and services, the sector just can’t continue running on ‘hope’ or ‘waiting for a decision to be made’. It needs support now, particularly the core dispensing,” Patel told Pharmacy Business.
“During the pandemic, we all opened long hours, sacrificing our own health and well-being and never turned our backs on our patients. We have shown the true value of community pharmacy to the government, and now need to be trusted more, provided greater recognition nationally and given regular investment so pharmacy doors can stay open.”
Patel said the new Pharmacy First scheme, to be introduced on 31st January 2024, is a step in the right direction. The scheme will allow pharmacists to provide consultations, advice and treatment for seven common conditions: sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bite, impetigo, shingles, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women.
“It’s a great initiative and a fantastic way for pharmacy teams to demonstrate to the communities what pharmacies can do, and how we can take the pressure off GPs,” said Patel.
The service will add to a pharmacist’s and teams workload, but Patel, who runs numerous pharmacies as part of the Southdown’s Pharmacy Group, has rolled up his sleeves to deal with the additional pressure with a new strategy.
“Once the new service’s associated Patient Group Directions (PGDs) are released, we will devise our strategy. Certainly, there is going to be more work for the pharmacists, and upskilling the team and having the correct IT in place will be pivotal for improving work efficiencies and ensuring timely delivery of the service.”
Patel’s recent achievements as the Managing Director of the Southdowns Pharmacy Group include raising £20,000 for Ukraine Medical Crisis Appeal, completing 10,000 flu vaccines across the company, a record for the company.
Davies Pharmacy in Havant, Hampshire, which is part of the Southdowns Pharmacy Group, was awarded the Pharmacy Business Community Award 2023. The success of Davies Pharmacy is credited to the visionary leadership of Nemesh Patel, who successfully turned around the fortunes of this struggling pharmacy.
From a year ago where it was dispensing just 3,000 items per month, it has now been transformed to over 7,500. In 2022, they performed 11,000 flu vaccinations, compared to 2021 where it was just 250. Its Covid vaccination clinic has now delivered over 60,000 vaccinations.
Patel has overseen the delivery of Hypertension Checks, Flu Vaccinations, Covid Vaccinations, Ear Micro suctioning, Cholesterol Checks, and New Medicines Service.
Expressing his happiness on receiving the award, he said: “Truly honoured to receive such a prestigious award with so many other deserving nominees on the night, it was a complete surprise and one that takes centre place on the mantelpiece!”
Apart from running five other pharmacies, he has been supporting pharmacy graduate students in order to help build a stronger future for the sector, and healthier communities.
Why did you choose this career? Patel replies, “To make my family proud and make a difference to local communities. I have always enjoyed helping people and what better way to make a difference to someone’s life than by positively impacting their health”
Patel is an alumnus of King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford and holds two degrees: A pharmacy degree from King’s College London University and a health economics degree from City University, London.
Rapid fire questions
Q1 – What is your success mantra?
A – Trusting your team. Believe in them and embrace their skills.
Q2 – What is your biggest achievement in life till now?
A – Twice recipient of Community Award in six years!
Q3 – One person who you specially want give the credit for your success?
A – My wife, a shining star in our company and fantastic support.
Q4 -What makes you happy?
A – Giving colleagues their chance and supporting their training, watching them gain new skills and flourish.
The trust Nemesh establishes within the community, is truly phenomenal. Not only he has helped improve thousands of patients’ lives, but has also inspired many others around him regionally and nationally to deliver excellence to community pharmacy.
We wish him even more success in the future!