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Menopause? Meet the award-winning private pharmacy throwing menopausal women a lifeline

Remedi Health's end-to-end menopause service is proving community pharmacy’s clinical credentials to the people of Winchester

The historic city of Winchester is perhaps best-known for its medieval cathedral, picturesque streets and the Winchester City Mill. But a local pharmacy and healthcare clinic is putting this genteel corner of Hampshire on the map for other reasons. Its mould-breaking private model and service-led approach has patients flocking to be seen.

Read more: The GP pharmacist with a prescription for success

Remedi Health’s end-to-end menopause service, replete with diagnostics, an integrated phlebotomy service and specialist prescriptions, has local women flocking to the pharmacy. So it’s little wonder that this ambitious team caught the attention of the judges at the C+D Awards 2023, who praised the “great evidence based care” on display and crowned the pharmacy the worthy winner of the Health Initiative of the Year category at a prizegiving ceremony in London last September.

 

A different model

 

“There are probably a handful of private pharmacies around the country and increasingly the sector is looking to the model to see whether it's a of interest. But that makes us different, I suppose,” says Deborah Evans, the pharmacy’s clinical director and superintendent pharmacist, over a video call.

One thing that sets Remedi Health apart from other pharmacies its that it doesn’t dispense NHS prescriptions, freeing up its 12-strong team to concentrate on offering a comprehensive list of clinical services. Deborah says: “Prescriptions aren’t the front end of the business. They’re certainly part of the solution and people love the fact that they can come and get an end-to-end service without having to go away with a piece of paper to get dispensed elsewhere.”

Read more: The award-winning community pharmacist leading the charge for DSPs

Patients visiting the pharmacy can gain access to sleep and gut health services, book travel vaccines, be tested for various allergies and even have a contraceptive implant fitted. “We can do the full suite of services that you'd expect, but it's more akin to a private GP practice than it would be a pharmacy,” says Deborah.

While she believes that “there’s absolutely no reason” in theory why other pharmacy teams couldn’t offer the same services that she does, she’s “mindful” that the sheer volume of NHS most pharmacies have to dispense on a daily basis would make this extremely challenging. “There’s no way I’d have time to do 400 NHS items a day, the sheer logistics and the process of the operations that are required around that are super distracting,” she says. “And it's not a particularly profitable activity, so I’m better focusing my efforts on the things that really make a difference.”

 

“We’ve listened to what they want”

 

Remedi Health was established in 2021, following Deborah’s success in offering pop-up COVID-19 vaccinations during the pandemic. The business has gone from strength to strength since then, evolving in line with patient need.

Deborah describes the typical Remedi Health client as a woman in her forties or fifties in charge of the health of a busy family, who can rely on the pharmacy to fulfil all those needs. Deborah explains: “She's the chief health officer for the family, if you like. She's the one looking out for her husband who's getting a bit wide round the middle and needs his cholesterol testing and his PSA checked.

“She's the one that's looking out for whether Johnny's had his gap year vaccinations or whether they've got food intolerance or acne...We've listened to what they want, and we rarely say no.”

Read more: The university schooling its students on equality, diversity and inclusion

A woman coming to Remedi Health for its menopause service will be guided through a private consultation asking about their symptoms, any health conditions and family medical history. “And then we will get into, ‘Okay, so this is what's happening to your body,’” says Deborah. Visual aids are used to patients can understand the impact menopause is having on them. “If we've got an empowered woman in front of us, then she can make the best decisions and also she's going to get the best out of treatment,” she adds.

“I spend probably 70%, if not more, of my time just listening to what's going on, trying to join up the dots, cognisant that it may not just be menopause, there might be something else going on.”

From there, women can be prescribed an appropriate HRT treatment, with the team monitoring the dosage over time until “she finds that sweet spot for her”. Deborah contacts patients two weeks after their initial prescription to see how they are getting on and extra fine-tuning can take place at a three-month follow-up appointment. “If we think we've got it about right then we'll add in testosterone at that point,” she says.

 

Overcoming challenges

 

The effects of Remedi Health’s menopause service are truly life changing. “I see women on the edge of despair become themselves again,” says Deborah. With menopause and its sometimes-devastating effects being widely covered in the media over the past couple of years, the demand for HRT treatments has soared. This has resulted in crippling shortages and headaches for pharmacy teams dealing with numerous SSPs to help manage the supply issues.

But Remedi Health’s careful monitoring of stock helped them to weather these challenges. “They might be persuaded to use different formulation in the short term like a gel spray,” says Deborah, offering an example. But regardless, she has always ensured that each individual’s needs are taken into account “when we're going through the options for formulations with them, so they can make an informed choice that that's going to work with them and their lifestyle”.

“We would also share with them that there have been some supply issues, patches, for example, and therefore you might want to take that into consideration when choosing what you want.”

Read more: Podcast: The C+D Awards for 2024 are fast approaching. Enter now!

As C+D’s conversation with C+D draws to a close, Deborah prepares to make her way back into the dispensary, where many prescriptions are waiting to be filled. It has already been a busy day of consultations for her and the rest of the team, and business shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. In the future, she plans to keep on offering a “super accessible” service that truly puts patients first. She notes that many see the clinic as their “first entry point into private healthcare”, and there are plans to keep building on its existing success by spreading awareness locally.

The business is no stranger to awards success, having come up trumps in the Business Innovation of the Year category at the C+D Awards 2022. This innovative private clinic is pushing the boundaries of what community pharmacy can offer, and patients are loving their offering. With such exciting model on display, it is surely just a matter of time before Remedi Health picks up its third C+D Award.

The C+D Awards 2024 will take place at The Brewery in London on September 19. Could you or one of your colleagues be crowned as a C+D Award winner? Check out all the categories for the 2024 awards and enter today.

 

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