Tatiana Pankratova believes beauty is related to health despite what commissioners may think. The Pharmacy Business Award winner talks to Neil Trainis…
“Beauty is a word that often will get associated with being 'superficial' and non-related to health, but it's not quite that simple,” Tatiana Pankratova, the effervescent pharmacy manager of Day Lewis in Harrods, says.
When people think Harrods, they might think expensive. Extravagant perhaps. Beauty and cosmetics most definitely. When people think Day Lewis pharmacy, they think healthcare, clinical services, well-being.
For those who subscribe to the view that health and beauty should be kept well apart from one another, that painkillers and consultation rooms must never be in the same vicinity as skin moisturisers and perfumes, the Harrods-Day Lewis blend might come as an uneasy combo.
Tatiana, who came to the UK from Russia in 2008 with background in social work and healthcare, does not think health and beauty are difficult bedfellows. Beauty is, in her view, inextricably linked to health.
“The term (beauty) can mean a lot of things and have a strong impact on our lives. Beauty isn't always about how we look. It can also be related to how we feel, as a big component behind good health,” the Health and Beauty Award winner says.
“For many people, feeling and looking better gives a big boost of confidence. People with more confidence generally feel happier and positive. When you truly take good care of yourself, you'll be healthier, happier and able to thrive. The beauty will show from within.”
Governments intent on squeezing out efficiency savings and commissioners looking for tangible health outcomes would doubtless shudder at the sight of a community pharmacy front window crammed with cheap aftershaves and toiletries. Yet Tatiana believes beauty has an important place within health if approached shrewdly, as her team have demonstrated at Harrods.
“We don’t just aim to dispense medication. We strive to always go the extra mile and make sure that we truly help people to stay healthy and feel better.
“Certainly, whether it is taking the time to talk to customers in order to determine what would best fulfil their needs, or undertaking regular training in the areas of customer service skills and health and beauty product knowledge, the Harrods pharmacy team is committed to doing whatever is feasibly possible in order to ensure that each and every customer leaves the pharmacy completely satisfied.
“Harrods customers highly trust pharmacy advice and services and therefore it is one of the main reasons they come to the pharmacy to shop for the health and beauty products.”
As the government ponders its £170 million cut to pharmacy funding, it is tempting to think Clinical Commissioning Groups and other structures would be reluctant to commission services from pharmacies selling the new David Beckham aftershave or Jennifer Lopez perfume.
It must be said that people might have different expectations of a Day Lewis in Harrods compared to an independent community pharmacy embedded in rural Somerset for example. Tatiana just hopes commissioners take notice of pharmacies across the spectrum.
“Considering all the recent funding cuts and petition for community pharmacies, I really hope that the pharmacy sector will receive much more support from commissioners in the future,” she insists.
“I genuinely believe that pharmacies are much easier to access for the public and more convenient. Customers receive professional service and expert advice on various ranges of products.
“For example, healing natural skin creams or organic lotions, this can be a great relief for dry skin conditions, etc. It would help GPs to save appointment times on areas which can be handled by community pharmacy professionals.”
She has some advice for community pharmacists. “Turning prescription collectors into shoppers can boost any pharmacy business. I would advise pharmacies to make their sales space more profitable and maximise health and beauty categories.”
The retail approach has served Tatiana's branch very well. As the Pharmacy Business roving judge Richard Brown observed after visiting the store last year, “Day Lewis Pharmacy in Harrods is all about the retail experience and their success comes from excellent customer service.”
Tatiana's staff of 12 are well-drilled. She describes them as “an amazing multi-cultural team” who have undergone training programmes ensuring there is next to nothing they don't know about a product.
They also have the vigilance to check the patient medication record to reduce the customer's risk of an adverse reaction to a product. And, as you would expect, the Day Lewis Harrods operation is more than adequately supported.
“This would also include our business partners, such as in-store demonstrators, brand ambassadors, sales and up-skilled experts in specific areas,” Tatiana says. “Our pharmacy team have the passion and drive to go the extra mile for each customer and aim to provide the best customer experience and world-class customer service.”
Tatiana seems utterly at home in a pharmacy. Day Lewis first employed her six years ago as an over-the-counter medical consultant and last year she qualified as an accuracy checking pharmacy technician. You might say medicine was in her blood from a young age.
“As a child, everybody has a dream. I had an ambition to become a medical doctor. I feel I am in the right field and enjoy being part of community pharmacy and healthcare,” she insists.
“I've always been passionate about health and beauty. Better health is central to human happiness and well-being. It also makes an important contribution to economic progress, as healthy populations that live longer are more productive.
“Our company’s core purpose is to help people in the community stay healthy and feel better. I am proud to represent our caring family culture, look after customers and reward and recognise our pharmacy team.”
Tatiana's Day Lewis journey has fulfilled her. “Over the years at Day Lewis pharmacy, I proactively continued my professional development and completed all possible courses available, starting from MCA, dispensary, then technician NVQ3 in pharmacy services and finally accuracy checking technician qualification in 2015,” she recounts.
“This led me to change my job role frequently from technician to branch manager-co-ordinator in various Day Lewis pharmacy stores. It was a great experience to work with many talented people.
“We always looked for ways to develop pharmacy services and were allowed to innovate and test out some great ideas in our workplace.”
Tatiana came to the UK eight years ago perhaps wondering how the NHS there compared with Russia's healthcare system which was marked by its own stark contrast between the modern private clinics of Moscow and the dated, creaking medical practices across the rest of the country. In Russia, lots of drugs which are prescription-only in the UK are OTC.
“After the end of the Soviet Union, Russian healthcare became composed of state and private systems,” she says. “Originally, state healthcare was greatly inferior, while pricier private facilities provided better-quality healthcare.
“Now Russia has changed to a mixed model of healthcare with private financing and provision running alongside state financing and provision.
“Due to the demand for faster, better quality treatment, private healthcare is growing rapidly. Russian citizens are already allowed to use their state health insurance to pay for some private health services and the Russian government is considering greatly expanding the amount of private services eligible for coverage under state insurance.”
Tatiana says “pharmacies do play an important role in the Russian healthcare system” but the difference between what Russian pharmacies and UK pharmacies provide is striking.
“Although majority of community pharmacies belong to municipal authorities, some belong to regional government and some are privately-owned. Pharmaceuticals are provided for in-patients by the hospital but out-patients must purchase them privately. Out-patient pharmacies cannot be compared to the services which are provided by NHS community pharmacies.
“My family and friends are stunned when I tell them about the amazingly convenient services available within UK pharmacies – Medicine Use Reviews, New Medicine Service, blood pressure monitoring, stop smoking clinics, hearing aids, melanoma skin screening, etc. The level of service and quality is significantly different.”
One hopes Theresa May, Jeremy Hunt, David Mowat et al are listening. Tatiana is asked if the £170 million in cuts will prove damaging to her branch of Day Lewis.
“Funding cuts will impact all pharmacies in the UK, affecting our abilities to offer excellent patient care,” she replies. One hopes they are listening to that too.
Tatiana Pankratova (left) and Minal Pitrola picked up the Pharmacy Business Health & Beauty Award last year on behalf of Day Lewis Harrods.