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Atulkumar Patel: A beacon of resilience and innovation in pharmacy practice

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Despite offers to join full-time in a GP practice, Atul chose to remain dedicated to his community, becoming the second pharmacist in his own pharmacy practices

Nestled in the heart of a bustling high street and a housing estate, at Lincoln Pharmacy, part of Mildcare Ltd Group, in Tower Hamlets in London, the scene is a testament to resilience and innovation, where queues of people seek aid from a pharmacy technician stationed behind a glass window—a symbol of the enduring impact of the pandemic.

Amidst the array of modern amenities at the pharmacy stands Atulkumar Patel, the proprietor and Independent Prescriber (IP) at Lincoln Pharmacy, whose vision has propelled the establishment into a beacon of progressive healthcare.

Owner of two Pharmacies, Atul’s team of 20 dispenses an average of 20,000 prescriptions monthly, maintaining an NHS/OTC split of 80/20.

Recipient of the prestigious Independent Prescriber of the Year award at the Pharmacy Business Awards 2023, Patel reflects on the pivotal moment when his pharmacy pioneered the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine jabs within the community.

“When doctors’ doors closed, pharmacy was the only place where people could get help and care,” Patel recounts, emphasising the pivotal role pharmacies played during the crisis.

Atul’s dedication during the pandemic extended beyond mere service provision; it was about showcasing the untapped potential of pharmacies.

“We had queues stretching up to the traffic lights… working like the windmill,” he vividly describes, underscoring the pharmacy’s indispensable role in healthcare delivery.

“it was the COVID vaccine, the pandemic that actually put us on the map. We were here all this time we were doing amazing work. But we were like stealth bombers. Silent workers, silent heroes in the background,” he adds.

Atul’s proactive approach during the pandemic not only served the community but also demonstrated to NHS and GP colleagues the capabilities of pharmacies “from the ground level up.”

Through the establishment of common ailment clinics and adept resolution of prescribing challenges amidst the Covid-19 crisis, Atul has transformed his pharmacy into a comprehensive health clinic.

Pharmacy; lincoln pharmacy
Lincoln Pharmacy, London

By augmenting his premises with three consultation rooms, introducing automation, and providing training for ear microsuction and phlebotomy services, Atul has not only elevated the capabilities of his team but also alleviated the strain on primary care services.

Motivated by his father’s wisdom, he navigated the challenges with unwavering resolve, echoing, “Tough times don’t last, tough people do. Have no regrets, but new dreams, new desires and new expectations in life.”

This mantra fueled his persistence in realising his vision for Lincoln Pharmacy when he first decided to transition from a locum pharmacist to an empowered Independent Prescriber at his own pharmacy, recognising the need for pharmacists to play a more holistic role in patient care.

Despite limitations in funding, he utilised his skills to provide early interventions, bridging gaps in healthcare during the pandemic becoming the first pharmacy to provide covid-jabs across the country.

He fondly recalls his mother’s steadfast dedication, noting her background as a teacher and her pivotal role in his success. For Atul, his mother is his inspiration.

At the heart of Atul’s professional odyssey lies a deep-rooted tie to his cultural heritage, stemming from his relocation to the UK at the age of 14, prompted by the Idi Amin crisis in Uganda.

Reflecting on his identity as a member of the Indian diaspora, he shares, “For us to serve human beings is the best thing that we could ever do,” echoing the compassionate ethos instilled in him through his Hindu upbringing.

His commitment to holistic healthcare goes beyond conventional practices, evident in his role as a blood microscopy practitioner, where he utilises innovative methods to inspire lifestyle changes and create detox programmes.

Atul is also an active contributor and member of the Community Pharmacy Prescribing Training and Co-design Group in association with the Guys Hospital and University College London (UCL) to design training for new cohorts graduating as pharmacy prescribers in two years.

Discussing his community contributions, Atul’s consciousness drives him to address pressing healthcare needs, such as establishing successful polio clinics.

Despite the robust service portfolio, Atul identifies gaps in provision, particularly in childhood vaccinations and NHS-commissioned services such as ear microsuction and blood testing.

In his view challenges persist due to a lack of commissioning, hindering the expansion of community pharmacy services.

His cultural background shapes his proactive approach to healthcare, emphasising prevention and community well-being.

In recounting poignant patient encounters, Patel illustrates the profound impact of personalised care. From offering practical solutions for pain management to empowering patients with self-care techniques, every interaction embodies his philosophy of “every contact counts.”

Receiving the Pharmacy Business Award evoked a mix of emotions for Patel, underscoring the collective effort behind his achievements. “That award belongs to not just me, but my team,” he acknowledges, recognising the instrumental role of his son and wider team in shaping Lincoln Pharmacy’s success.

Atul’s journey epitomises resilience, innovation, and a deep-rooted commitment to holistic healthcare.

His story is a testament to the transformative power of compassion, cultural heritage, and collaborative leadership in shaping the future of pharmacy practice.

pharmacy
Atul Patel, Pharmacist, Lincoln Pharmacy, London at the Pharmacy Business Awards 2023 held at Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in London.

Offering an array of professional services including smoking cessation, vaccinations, flu clinics, and private blood testing, Mildcare Ltd group’s Lincoln pharmacy strives to meet diverse healthcare needs.

Part of the PharmaPlus buying group, Patel’s pharmacies maintain partnerships with wholesalers such as AAH and Sigma Colorama.

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