Anna Pharmacy’s flu service goes viral

Jaymil Patel

ANNA Pharmacy is a busy pharmacy situated in the London Borough of Sutton.

A family run business which has been established for 30 years, the pharmacy team prides itself on delivering exceptional healthcare services to their patients, one of which is a flu vaccination programme.

This year a record number of patients have requested a flu vaccination. In fact, so far, they have delivered over 500 vaccinations — an absolutely incredible achievement. Talking to Numark recently, pharmacist and manager Jaymil Patel explained why their vaccination services have been such a huge success.

“I started in the family business around four and half years ago joining my parents to help develop patient centric services for our local community. My dad is a pharmacist – he works alongside me, and my mum is a healthcare assistant offering support and advice to patients across a range of healthcare and ailment specific issues.

“Anna Pharmacy is an extremely busy pharmacy in the heart of the borough, providing a number of services ranging from sexual health to smoking cessation.

“We have a high prescription turnover alongside a healthy OTC business which we have invested in recently enhancing and refreshing the skills and knowledge of the counter team in response to the funding cuts. We are conscious of the fact that we need to look at all areas of the business and ensure we are maximising opportunities available to us, one of which is building on our already successful flu vaccination service.

“In 2013, we were one of the first pharmacies to take part in the first pan-London pharmacy enhanced service for flu vaccinations pilot scheme. At the time, approximately 1,100 community pharmacies were commissioned by NHS England (London Region) to provide the flu vaccination service. Pharmacies in London vaccinated approximately 70,000 people and we were delighted to be a part of this, contributing towards the well documented increase in the number of under 65s at risk groups and pregnant women vaccinated.

“Based on this success, NHS England re-commissioned community pharmacies in London to administer seasonal flu vaccinations in 2014/15.

“Since then our service has gone from strength-to-strength despite having a competitor directly opposite who also offer a flu service. I strongly believe that core to our success is our heritage, professional work ethic and importantly the fantastic relationships we have built with our customers over the years. Being a family run business really resonates within our community and they have a great deal of respect and loyalty for us.

“This is far and above our best year so far; I put it down to our collaborative approach which includes a comprehensive marketing strategy, comprising of both online and offline activity including a large digital display in the window and also inside the pharmacy itself. Our team are highly trained to be able to identify eligible patients and engage with them about the benefits of the flu vaccination.

“Word of mouth is also an extremely powerful marketing medium that I believe drives the majority of our patients to us, of course we have the regular cohort who return year after year, but for our service to increase so significantly we must be doing something right and you can’t beat customer recommendation. Of course the flu vaccination is also hugely convenient in pharmacy and many of our patients will opt to have it there and then whilst others will schedule an appointment to suit.

“The demand is out there to deliver a flu vaccination service, the key is ensuring communication channels are utilised effectively and the pharmacy team trained adequately to convert both eligible and private patients.

“We have built all of our services around the local population and are currently preparing for HLP accreditation, training our HLP champion to further expand the number of services we offer and develop and establish a wide range of in-store health campaigns.

“The pharmacy cuts have really made us focus our attention to ensure we are bringing income opportunities into the business. We have to identify areas where we can not only help support our patients, but increase and retain loyalty and grow our already strong customer base.

“Whilst at the moment the government doesn’t fully recognise the important role of local community pharmacies or remunerate pharmacy fairly or equitably, we cannot allow this to determine our future. Regardless of the fact, we continue to make a difference in our communities and ensure the health and wellbeing of our patients is a priority and it is this that motivates us to succeed.”

Anna Pharmacy became a Numark member in January of this year and we are incredible proud to have them on board. They are shining example of everything community pharmacy should be. Speaking directly about their membership, Jaymil explained the benefits of becoming a part of Numark’s 3,490 plus membership stronghold.

“Partnership with Numark has meant that over the past few months we have seen a greater amount of rebates. We have found them to be extremely helpful and transparent; allowing us to monitor the positive effect being a member has had on our pharmacy.”

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