OVER the years, I have actively embraced the new Scottish pharmacy contract and used my experience to make sure the local community I look after in Glenrothes fully benefits from NHS Scotland’s Vision For Pharmacy.
I am always looking for practical ways to help and improve the patient experience. I run a NHS Fife award-winning smoking cessation service (2015-2016) and we have really made a positive impact on patients lives and helped our region achieve its HEAT targets.
As I am the regular pharmacist, I am well-known within the area and actively champion all aspects of local pharmacy care. My door is always open to junior pharmacists and I am only a phone call away if they need advice, and within our branch, I have nurtured a very healthy relationship with the local GP surgery.
We use NHS mail from branch to the surgery to improve communication (for example, if a certain drug is out of stock) and I contribute to the GP surgery’s regular Monday lunchtime meeting. We have also collaborated to develop a GP/pharmacist referral form, which has been really well received by the surgery as helped standardise the way we communicate.
At the request of the doctors we included a section for them to reply, which allows an audit trail from which I can feed back to the GPs — we are always looking to ways to improve all aspects of patient care. I have happily forwarded this referral form, at the surgery’s request, to other pharmacists within NHS Fife. I believe in sharing good practice and I might learn from their input too! I have developed this concept further for compliance aids information sharing.
Our pharmacy and the local surgeries work together to further positive patient outcomes. Recently there was a long-term supply issue with steroid creams, so we worked closely with the local GPs and wholesalers to minimise the impact on patients. We issued a weekly list of out of stock steroid creams and suggested available alternatives. The GPs came to rely on this and it really helped our patients get seamless care, as we would could sort the problem between us before the patient even presented in the pharmacy. Patients didn’t have to wait or take up a GP’s time to prescribe an alternative cream.
I have really tried to integrate and develop the minor ailment service at our branch and I feel that this has been a real success story. Over the years, many of our patients have come to rely on this service and it has freed up emergency and routine appointments with GPs and nurses.
In combination with our GP referral form this has created a well-rounded service – prescribing where appropriate, or signposting patients to their GP if required. It has given patients the confidence that they have been seen by a healthcare professional and given a proper recognised referral.
Our branch is located within a retail centre next to a nursery and school, so we also have plenty of ‘wee visitors’ popping in after school accompanied by concerned parents. Sometimes it’s just the little things that really help deliver a service. We have made one of our consultation rooms child friendly and have a selection of soft toys available for the children to play with and rewards stickers.
There has been many a time that we have sent a mum and child home with a smile. I believe that as a healthcare professional I need to understand patients as well as their illnesses. Putting them at ease, no matter what their age, and really helping them, gives me great satisfaction.
Moving on from the young, I recognise that the elderly really need that extra helping hand. I have worked really hard with my wonderful technician, Michelle, in developing and delivering a complete compliance aid service to our more vulnerable patients.
As NHS funds have been stretched, NHS Fife removed funding for domiciliary visits to patients home. Nevertheless, we have continued and I believe we have improved this service.
We have set in place a care package for all patients who may need help with medication and are not able to attend the pharmacy. We always arrange a pharmacist or technician to do a home visit to our vulnerable patients. We then follow this through by making sure all the prescriptions and documentation is reviewed and correct. We liaise with GPs, district nurses, hospital pharmacists and care workers to make sure we have an agreed plan. We then follow up all patients after a 4-week period for a home visit or telephone call review, to make sure they are happy and resolve any issues.
I would like to think that I go that extra mile for my patients. Recently one of my elderly patients popped in to the pharmacy on a Saturday morning. The poor chap was in pain. He told me that he had a ‘spot’ on his chest that was giving him bother but he was also in a hurry. On examination, in our consultation room, I was alarmed to see that it was not a spot, but rather a painful looking large abscess. This required urgent medical attention.
However, he just wanted to go home, as his wife suffered from dementia and he didn’t want to leave her alone. I told him not to worry as I would look after everything. I called NHS 24 using our dedicated profession-to-profession direct line and arranged an appointment. I got him into my car, then collected his wife from home and delivered them both safely to the local A&E and ensured that they would be given assistance to get back home safely.
And the future? Well, with the help of our General Manager Mahyar, I am really looking forward to developing our new ‘preventive intervention’ services for the worried well by offering free a blood pressure, height, weight and BMI service. We are also offering blood glucose and cholesterol level reading as part of our enhanced services. We are about to go live, with a full range of vaccination and private PGDs available as a complete walk-in service.We even teamed up with the local gym – ladyzonly — and will now offer a health check clinic at the gym.
I am keenly involved in developing the roles of all our staff to offer a comprehensive NHS as well as non-NHS services to all our customers. I think this is the way forward for pharmacy, the NHS and patients.
Naseem Sadiq has been a community pharmacist for over 15 years and is the pharmacist manager at Dears Pharmacy in Glenrothes, Fife. He is the Scottish winner of the RPS I Love My Pharmacist Award 2016 and is a contender to win the national award