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C+D Awards' best of the best: Laura Rowley

Ms Rowley's C+D Award-winning tip: "Give snippets of health promotion at every opportunity."
Ms Rowley's C+D Award-winning tip: "Give snippets of health promotion at every opportunity."

Are you ready to vote for your favourite award-winner of the past decade?

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the C+D Awards, we have created a special category for 2017 – and are giving you the chance to pick the winner. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be looking back at each of the past recipients of the coveted Community Pharmacist of the Year trophy. Readers will then be given the chance to vote for their favourite entry, with the winner announced at the C+D Awards ceremony at Celtic Manor in Wales on July 12.

This week, it's Laura Rowley (formerly Laura Brown) of Edinburgh Road Pharmacy in Jarrow, who scooped the award in 2013.

What made her a winner?

Working in the only pharmacy on a deprived estate in the former shipbuilding town of Jarrow, Tyne and Wear, Ms Rowley was determined to make it the hub of the community.

As the estate did not have a GP surgery, she was keenly aware that she might be the only healthcare professional that people saw. Taking healthy living seriously for all age groups, Ms Rowley oversaw the introduction of a wide range of services: flu jabs for the elderly, health checks for over-40s (often leading to a referral to the pharmacy’s stop smoking service), emergency contraception for teenagers, and a methadone clinic.

She also trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and saved the life of a woman who collapsed outside the pharmacy.

Ms Rowley's top tip:

Make sure every patient is asked at least one health promotion question. "It's about asking more than just ‘how was your holiday?'", she told C+D in 2014. "It's about giving people little snippets of health promotion at every opportunity.

"Nobody has ever told them that you should only really have [14] units a week of alcohol. They say: ‘But I drink that and my dad drinks that and my dad's dad drank that.' And when I ask them how long they lived for, they say they all had heart attacks at 55.”

What’s she up to now?

Having recently married – hence the change in surname – Ms Rowley took time out from preparations for her honeymoon to update C+D on her professional progress.

Ms Rowley still works at Edinburgh Road Pharmacy, keeping up her busy schedule of services, as well as working as a pre-registration tutor. The pharmacy has recently taken on a new nursing home and a respite centre, situated next to the local hospital.

“That’s about 80 beds,” she says. “We settle people into an environment where they are getting ready to go home again. We’re continuing with all our services – the supervised methadone clinic, the busy smoking cessation clinic.”

Flu vaccination is another recent success story for the pharmacy. “We’ve done really well with flu vaccinations, taking the pressure off GPs,” she says. The pharmacy staff are becoming Dementia Friends, have started a brief alcohol intervention service, and Ms Rowley is volunteering for a new vulnerable adults service that is being developed locally to help homeless people.

She says the project may involve: “Working alongside Barnado’s and [social enterprise] First Contact Clinical at soup kitchens and hostels to provide pharmacy services.”

Read our profile of Best of the Best's 2015 C+D Award-winner Jay Badenhorst here.

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