Alphega Pharmacy Young Guns
Ahmed Jamel, who owns Fairlight Pharmacy in London and A C Curd Pharmacy in Isleworth, says it’s vital that independents continue empathising with their patients and educating their teams to avoid being taken over by large corporations…
Where and what year did you qualify as a pharmacist?
I studied at Medway School of Pharmacy and qualified as a pharmacist in 2014. I held various roles at LloydsPharmacy, from relief pharmacist to pharmacy manager and then cluster manager, before departing to become pharmacy/group manager at Lansdale Pharmacy
There I dived deep into community pharmacy, learning a great deal during my time with them. I bought my first pharmacy last year - Fairlight Pharmacy - and now the second one, A C Curd Pharmacy.
Why is your pharmacy so special?
It’s our attention to detail. We want our patients to order their prescription and leave the rest to us with confidence. It’s our responsibility to follow things through, taking whatever steps are necessary, until the patient has received their medication.
When I took over Fairlight Pharmacy last year, I quickly realised that to ensure our continued success as a business, the most important thing was to get the basics right every time …. not to lose focus on the importance of my role as a pharmacist, taking care of my patients and having pride in the value that I add to my community.
To allow that level of focus requires efficient processes behind the scenes. It’s what creates the capacity needed to be at the front of my pharmacy, getting to know the local people, genuinely being part of the community.
What about your local area…?
Fairlight Pharmacy is situated in a fairly affluent area, while there is a very mixed demographic surrounding A C Curd Pharmacy and we support people from all walks of life.
We take our duty of care to all our patients very seriously. To single out a particular example is difficult, because going the extra mile is something we do every day.
A recent incident which springs immediately to mind, though, was when a local GP surgery had some issues as they closed the practice down, resulting in prescriptions not being ready.
A meeting had been organised by the GPs to talk with the local community and provide some reassurance. I was due to attend the meeting, however a patient came into the pharmacy that evening as we were about close, chasing a prescription.
I couldn’t leave them without medication overnight and so attended the very start of the meeting, left early, came back to the pharmacy, resolved the issue and the patient’s representative was able to collect the essential item by 8pm that same evening.
I was able to reassure the patient, without apportioning any blame on the surgery. We are a team and need to work together with the NHS, in the best interests of the patient.
Hopes for the future
As we continue to work with younger people, new to our profession, it is vital that we demonstrate the importance of community pharmacy, that we all lead by example and do not approach the role as though it’s a chore.
If we don’t show that we care, we can’t expect others to. As role models we need to show that if we work hard and concentrate on the right things, pharmacy can be a very rewarding profession.
It’s important that we continue to focus on adding value every day, that our presence is felt in the local community and that we continue to take pride in contributing towards the vitality of those people. The less attention we give to this, the more risk there is.
Concerns for the future…
The less attention we give to our patients and to improving our service, the more risk there is that community pharmacy as we know it will slip away.
Pharmacists at all levels - locums, trainees and contractors - all need to be pharmacists first and care about their role, every day with every interaction.
If we don’t want independent pharmacy to be taken over by large corporations, the service element is what will make the difference. Empathising with our patients and educating our teams, so that we are continually getting better.
Ahmed Jamel is an Alphega Pharmacy member.