Jay Badenhorst with his Pharmacy Business Enterprise award.

“If things continue the way it is without change, I think it could be doom and gloom. But with every moment of doom and gloom, there will be an opportunity as well,” Jay Badenhorst said to me on a busy afternoon in central London.

We were discussing community pharmacy just weeks before the announcement of the five-year funding deal for pharmacy. He was very hopeful of a positive outcome.

“I truly believe whatever comes from the negotiations, there will be opportunities. And let’s not forget the roles for pharmacists are constantly evolving.”

As chair of Tees local pharmacy committee (LPC), Jay was actively involved when the Digital Minor Illness Referral Service, known locally as the Community Pharmacy Referral Service, which was trialled in the North East. The scheme sought to refer patients from NHS 111 directly to community pharmacies to manage their minor ailment needs.

“It is a substantial service that we can deliver to patients. The pressure on GPs is immense. The services that we can do should be done in the pharmacy. It’s a complete no brainer. Diverting the services to community pharmacists means tapping into a network that already exists, so NHS don’t need to invest to create a new network. If there is already a good relationship that already exists between the GPs and the pharmacists, it makes perfect sense.”

However, what pharmacists get for the time spent is better than a kick in the teeth, he said.

“If we get this blueprint that’s been created right and it works in the potential of adding more services into referral schemes, it gets much better, and adding additional functionalities like IPs, it becomes much easier. That’s why it’s crucial we do this right and do it well.”

Jay started working in a local pharmacy as a child in South Africa because as a 14 or 15-year-old he wanted to have extra pocket money.

“I was doing shelves stacking, some till work and gradually worked my way up, speaking to patients coming into the pharmacy, helping with admin task, etc.”

After gaining his pharmacy degree right at the turn of the millennium, Jay moved down to Cape Town for his pre-reg.

“But over there it was much more clinically advanced so we were doing all sorts of services. I was able to manage chronic conditions, doing repeat prescriptions, injections – I was doing Vitamin B injections. We set up a sexual health clinic in Cape Town for the local population that we charged for private consultations. We did bone density testing for women and all sorts of things, very much service orientated.”

He then came across an advert asking: ‘Do you fancy a career abroad?’

“I went for the interview in Cape Town and that was in the fellowship year in Britain when there was a shortage of pharmacists. I was successful in my interview and I came over to the UK in March 2001.”

Thus began Jay’s journey into the world of pharmacy in England. Eight years on, and he was with Whitworth Chemists as superintendent pharmacist, tasked with overseeing 33 pharmacy branches of the chain in the North of England.

“It was like a blank slate where I could start from scratch. It presented me with the opportunity to restructure, have a look at how we do things, bring in new procedures, look at our recruitment policies, our stocks, our pricing – very much at all sides of the business.”

One of his areas of focus was revamping pharmacies that looked tired, old, cramped or simply outdated.

As managing director, Jay revamped struggling or tired-looking pharmacies across the chain to give them a fresh look and feel.

“Sometimes if your business is struggling you decide to reinvest in it. Often a refit might be a good idea because the staff feel rejuvenated. When people come in, it’ll look new and it’ll look fresh. Our focus was on revamping pharmacies that looked tired, old, cramped or simply outdated.

“It could be because a pharmacy is in the wrong location, so you decide to relocate which normally involves a refit as well. And, of course, we do it in a way which fits with our own branding and the way it links to the community – we have always ensured that we are seen as a local independent pharmacy. It important for us to keep it family-friendly, treating our customers as part of the family and making them feel welcome to come in.”

Jay is a strong advocate of utilizing the clinical skills of community pharmacists who need to be recognised as clinicians, and visible as clinical pharmacists within the community.

“That will allow us to start looking at different disease categories. We know through DMIRS that we can help with acute conditions. But we also know that we can help with longterm conditions. If we can do AF identification or hypertension identification and we can manage that condition on behalf of the GP practices or in collaboration with them then we should be recognised as that as well.” And how about collaborating with the guy next door, someone who has always been the archrival?

“It will be naive to think that we as pharmacists will potentially be able to be a specialist in every service. There is plenty for everyone. As long as we collaborate, as long as we share, and we’ve got to remember that we are talking about the NHS here, we will be fine. The one thing we’ve got in common is the patient and we do share patients. If I can’t fulfil the needs of the patient then the person down the road maybe able to.”

He agrees that the resource of community pharmacy is terribly underutilised.

“I think now is the biggest opportunity that we can start working collaboratively with the setting-up of PCNs and within the ICS. There is a little bit of money and it sits with the GPs. But if we have got a good enough relationship, which is mature enough, we can sit around the table and have a discussion and decide who’s going to do what. But then also once we have decided who’s going to do what, let the money fl ow there because the GPs won’t be doing stuff for free, so why should we be doing stuff for free, why should our professional advice be less than what you pay for a cup of coffee?”

“As they say in up north, ‘shy boys get nowt’ – if you don’t ask you don’t get.”

Pharmacy Business Enterprise Award

This article also appears in the August issue of Pharmacy Business.

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