The C+D Award-winning staff at Whitworth Chemist in Fitzwilliam, West Yorkshire, were set a challenge by their superintendent: to drive greater patient involvement in the business.
In their award entry, the team admitted this seemed “daunting and difficult” at first. After giving it some thought, they tackled it head-on by taking the brave step of inviting patients to be brutally honest about the pharmacy’s service, and what it could do better.
It's no surprise to hear they were apprehensive at first, but they also realised it was an opportunity to establish themselves at the heart of the community. Pharmacy technician Donna Reid led the project, and she and the team successfully recruited 20 patients to attend the first meeting in June 2015. Now, they regularly have 30 or more attendees at each event – with the latest taking place this month.
The result? Not only did they bag the C+D Award for Business Initiative of the Year, they have created a "vibrant group" of engaged individuals – the only one of its kind to be recognised by the National Association of Patient Participation Groups.
The unique, and honest, perspective from patients provided a welcome boost at a time when the pharmacy was “slowly losing business” due to a decline in visits through local GP surgeries.
Now, the pharmacy has grown significantly in every one of its target areas. Take the electronic prescription service (EPS), where the pharmacy saw a massive uptake in subscriptions. The business now handles 47% of its prescriptions via EPS, with half of all active patients signed up to the service. Their independently verified mystery shopper score stands at an eyebrow-raising 96% satisfaction rate, while medicines use reviews and the new medicine service have also taken off.
Of course, winning the C+D Award didn't hurt. “The whole team is massively more confident [now]," says Ms Reid. "We have majorly upped our game, and it has spurred us all on.”