Orford Pharmacy’s Jay Rowe tells Léa Legraien why he decided to become his pharmacy’s Flu Champion
Winter is coming and so is flu season.
Most people recover from the flu virus without any further complications. But the illness can be harmful and even result in death in elderly people, pregnant women and people with long-term conditions.
In 2015, NHS England launched a national NHS flu vaccination service allowing community pharmacies to offer seasonal vaccinations for at-risk patients.
Last winter (2016/17), community pharmacies delivered almost one million flu vaccinations to vulnerable patients across England.
Pharmacy consultancy company Pharmacy Complete recently launched a Flu Champion distance-learning course, which provides pharmacy team members with the knowledge and skills needed to better understand the illness and confidently deliver the national flu vaccination service to their communities.
‘Thinking outside the box’
Jay Rowe, who has been a pharmacy dispenser manager at Orford Pharmacy in Warrington for 14 years, became the very first Pharmacy Complete Flu Champion earlier this month.
‘I decided to become a Flu Champion with Pharmacy Complete after completing their health champion course in October last year.
‘I feel that becoming their first Flu Champion has helped rejuvenate my role within the pharmacy and encouraged me to think outside the box when dealing with patients,’ says Jay.
The course consists of an online multiple-choice exam that covers all aspects of the flu service. It takes around four hours of revision time with the possibility to keep the course’s accompanying work booklet after the completion of the test.
As a Flu Champion, Jay hopes to raise awareness of flu vaccination among his community and provide patients with a safe and high-quality experience. He wants to ensure that his pharmacy team delivers a professional clinical assessment and provides a well-rounded vaccination consultation to their patients.
‘When the opportunity [to become a flu champion] came about, I jumped at the chance to enrol so that I could influence and improve patient care within my pharmacy.
‘Building on the Health Champion qualification, the Flu Champion course provides additional evidence for meeting the Healthy Living Pharmacy criteria,’ he says.
Easing GP pressure
With the current funding cuts and pressures experienced by GP services, offering flu vaccinations in your pharmacy provides an opportunity to earn extra money, as well as ease the burden GPs face – especially during winter.
Jay says: ‘My personal responsibilities include making our patients and community aware that the service is available from the pharmacy, answering any queries related to the process and helping the patients prepare all of the paperwork.
‘Becoming a flu champion allows you to promote and encourage patients’ health and wellbeing through prevention rather than treatment,’ he says.
Increasing vaccine uptake
After only a few days as a Flu Champion, Jay’s new title has already borne fruit.
‘As well as ensuring the NHS targets for flu vaccinations are met, It has also boosted our retail revenues and allowed our pharmacy to sign up new patients, who have been brought in through the marketing of the service,’ he says.
‘I am absolutely positive this will increase our flu vaccine uptake as the positive impact of other previous courses I have undertaken with pharmacy complete is clearly visible, particularly for the patient’s health and wellbeing and in terms of business development.
‘I feel immensely proud and I hope my story can inspire others to follow in my footsteps,’ he says.