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Superdrug opens first "wellbeing pharmacy" in line with new focus on healthcare

Superdrug has opened its first wellbeing pharmacy in Banbury, Oxfordshire, today (2 May 2014). The pharmacy will be staffed by two pharmacists, a healthcare nurse and will be supported by a dispenser and a team of counter assistants. Marie Curie nurses will also be available at certain times to speak to patients and their carers about end-of-life care.

The in-store pharmacy has been redesigned to be open and accessible to patients, with low rise, cut-away counters, and there are three consultation rooms available for the healthcare staff to speak with patients and customers privately.

“We have specifically designed the consultation rooms to be fit for delivering services,” Christine Burbage, superintendent pharmacist for Superdrug, told The Pharmaceutical Journal at a preview event at the store yesterday (1 May 2014).

“We want to be able to deliver all the commissioned NHS and public health services and, in addition, we want both the nurse and the pharmacy team to be able to do private services as well, which will be focused around what we think the needs are in the particular locality,” she added.

“We are keen to get our pharmacists out from behind the dispensary bench to be able to have face-to-face conversations with the patients and customers,” continued Ms Burbage. “This is why we have invested in a second pharmacist at the new store so that at least one pharmacist is available at all times to be able to engage with patients and customers.”

Services offered at the wellbeing store include blood pressure checks, stop smoking advice, travel advice and vaccinations, erectile dysfunction advice and treatment, Chlamydia screening and treatment, and HIV testing. The store will also host weight management group sessions and a post-natal clinic — both to be delivered by external partners — in the larger of the three consultation rooms.

Around 70 per cent of the stock in the new store will be healthcare products compared with around 30 per cent in other Superdrug stores. According to Superdrug’s healthcare director Steve Gray the launch of this new store is in line with the retailer’s new focus on healthcare. He told The Journal: “Superdrug is well known for doing value beauty and fashion beauty but we now want to be known as much for healthcare as we are for beauty, and we feel that [this new concept store] is taking us in that direction.”

Opportunities to relocate pharmacies to GP surgeries will continue to be pursued

The retailer has recently relocated two of its pharmacies to GP surgeries and a second wellbeing pharmacy is due to open in Watford this July. “We want to maximise our pharmacy asset and at the moment we are not. [Our pharmacies] are a little bit tucked away at the back of high street stores; we want to make them stand out so people can see them and use them, and make them more relevant to that local community,” remarked Mr Gray.

“We will continue to look at opportunities to relocate pharmacies to GP surgeries and convert existing stores into wellbeing stores,” he added.

Mr Gray also revealed that the company was in “initial talks” with local GPs to explore opportunities for GPs to run out-of-hours clinics from Superdrug pharmacies.

“If GPs extend their opening hours, we can extend ours to match them. However, we are already open longer than the [local] GP surgery so why doesn’t the GP come here,” he asked. “We have the facility already set up, so they do not have to pay for the additional operation costs of running a surgery. We have a pharmacist and a nurse on staff and the store is open and it is easy for patients to access. A GP could literally walk in to one of these consultation rooms and run their after-hours surgery from there.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11138038

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