The award-winning pharmacy team that raised thousands of pounds for Ukraine
A passion for helping patients – both local and international – earned this hard-working independent pharmacy team a C+D Award
It is often said that success breeds success. With a C+D Award under their belt and a track record of raising thousands of pounds for charity, that is certainly true for the team at Hampshire's Rowlands Castle Pharmacy.
Although there is little respite at the busy pharmacy, which shares its name with the picturesque village that houses it, superintendent pharmacist Nemesh Patel is calm and composed throughout his interview with C+D. Alongside his wife – a fellow pharmacist – he heads up the independent pharmacy's team of "eight or nine" staff members, although the couple also owns two more pharmacies in the area.
Nemesh tells C+D he is proudest of the clinical work the pharmacy team offers, which includes an in-demand flu jab service and a popular monitored dosage system (MDS) service. And this pride is not unjustified; the team's entry to the C+D Awards 2022 wowed the judges and landed the team with the top prize in for Pharmacy Team of the Year category at last year's glitzy ceremony.
So what does he put the team’s success down to? With this year's C+D Awards now open for submissions, Nemesh reveals what it takes to become an award-winning pharmacy team.
It takes a village
The first two words Nemesh uses to describe his team are “multicultural” and “multi-representational”. He is keen to give credit where it is due, pointing out that the pharmacy's success has only been made possible because of the excellent service patients have come to expect from the team. This includes the willingness to learn, upskill and always try to do better.
Rowlands Castle Pharmacy is attached to a GP surgery and has a “village feel” to it, Nemesh notes, sitting pretty "in the heart of the village on the green”. But its rural location doesn't stop patients flocking to this "well-renowned" chemist. "Indeed, we have patients that travel to our pharmacy that live 10 miles away and they drive past dozens of pharmacies," Nemesh says proudly.
Why does he think the pharmacy is so popular? “Because they get care and attention that they feel they don't get in other community pharmacies,” he replies. It is "second nature" for the team to offer many of these services for free due to their “duty of care”.
Alongside the usual roster of COVID-19 and flu vaccinations, the team offer the new medicine service (NMS) and provide 10,500 items per month through their bespoke nomad MDS service. Nemesh firmly believes that the popularity of these clinical services has taken some of the pressure off the NHS.
But this is one pharmacy team to really have gone above and beyond. They have saved "countless" lives through supporting suicidal patients, saving housebound patients lying on the floor with no support and identifying cancerous skin lesions.
A global outlook
But for this compassionate team, patient care extends far further than the 200-300 patients who walk through the pharmacy's doors every day. Nemesh recalls that when Russia invaded Ukraine, the local community looked to the Rowlands Castle Pharmacy team for their response.
So they stepped up and started to raise funds. They started off by asking patients for £1 apiece, with the intention of funding some basic supplies such as bandages, first aid dressings and baby milk. “Within two weeks [we'd] been given £20,000,” says Nemesh, adding that patients are still donating to the cause.
Within two weeks of their efforts to help those hundreds of miles away, they had assembled a team of 40 volunteers, taken “over the village hall [and] started packing and assembling” supplies, Nemesh says. "Looking after the community, I think, really sort of underpins how special a team [we have]. I've managed hundreds of pharmacy teams in the country and Rowland's Castle really does have a really special group of staff that really want to give back."
What’s next for the team?
Despite being “shocked and honoured” to win the C+D Award against “amazing candidates [who] represent excellence within the sector”, it was straight back to work for the Rowlands Castle Pharmacy team. Now, they want to improve “and even excel” on what they achieved last year, says Nemesh.
As for him and his wife, they have no plans to start micromanaging their award-winning team. He believes they have got the team to a point where they do not need intervention from management and so the focus is very much on leaving them to it so they can continue to deliver excellent care.
With that, Nemesh explains that although it is an "admin day", his phone hasn't stopped ringing and the e-mails have not stopped landing in his inbox the whole time he has been speaking to C+D.
It seems there's no let up for this busy pharmacy team, for whom patient care always comes centrestage.
The C+D Awards 2023 will take place at The Brewery in London on September 6. Could you or one of your colleagues be crowned as a C+D Award winner? Check out all the categories for the 2023 awards and enter today.