Lila Thakerar, who was awarded an MBE in 2012 for her services to the community, talks to Pharmacy Business about Shaftesbury Pharmacy in Middlesex…
How would you describe your pharmacy?
Shaftesbury Pharmacy provides services with extreme pride. We lead the services that are delegated to us, achieving record figures for the NHS Stop Smoking Services and numerous local Enhanced Services. The exemplary care and support to our patients is well recognised. The recommendation by the healthcare team and the patients is our strength.
What is your advice on being a good pharmacist and running a good pharmacy?
Professionalism and a clinical approach is certainly the way forward. These two features should be portrayed in the outlook of the pharmacy, ensuring that the premises and the staff display an image that invites customers.
Keeping in touch with changes in the environment, be it relating to governance, social aspects of the community or activity in the healthcare profession, is a necessity for success and recognition. Staff involvement in all aspects of the pharmacy services and management, focusing on team work, is crucial for continual customer services.
How much do your sales depend on season and weather?
Seasonal changes do have an impact on sales, with hayfever season peaking with sales of antihistamines, the flu season increasing demand for cough, cold and analgesics, the start of the school term has sales of head lice preparations in demand.
Summer is a guaranteed time of the year when obvious purchases are made prior to overseas holidays. Good planning prior to the seasons is commercially wise, with staff trained to link sell other items that customers may not recall purchasing.
What part of the business is most challenging?
The governance and documentation is truly a challenge, taking away valuable time that could be used to provide better services. Although delegation to other staff does ease the pressure, certain aspects of the paperwork can only be actioned by us, with administrative work being done in our personal times. This leaves very little time for leisure and relaxation.
Do you get customers asking for products they have seen on TV which you know nothing about?
Products that are targeted to audiences and not recognised by the healthcare team are a challenge when requested by customers, and our opinions sought. Such queries should be handled tactfully and absolute professionalism displayed.
If you were to give up pharmacy tomorrow, what would you do?
In our 30 years as pharmacists we have witnessed difficulties that patients have experienced, particularly the elderly and the disabled. If our services were not used in the pharmacy profession, it would be extremely rewarding to offer hands-on services to the under privileged. We would hope that our experiences of many decades would be fruitful to the young entrepreneurial Pharmacists: it would a delight to offer consultancy advice to anyone needing guidance.
What is your view on funding and the role of the PSNC?
The pharmacy profession, generally, is rather frustrated with the funding structure and this can be demoralising. We feel that the personal input to the business is increasing and the rewards are either stagnant or reduced. The PSNC needs to recognise the frustrations of pharmacists and ensure that the clinical experience is rewarded appropriately.