Abdul Bux, pharmacy manager at Chorley Pharmacy in Lancashire, tells Saša Janković why every community pharmacy should offer a weight management service.

Service type: Weight management.

Name of pharmacy: Chorley Pharmacy, Lancashire.

Name of pharmacy manager: Abdul Bux.

Why did you start offering this service?

We started offering a weight management service about eight-and-a-half years ago, and incorporated Lipotrim into it right from the start. Our ethos is that we don’t just provide essentials in our pharmacy – we want to stand out from others by always looking to see what we can do differently to help our local community, and being able of offer customers the extra layer of Lipotrim is really useful, and is proven to be safe. Encouraging and supporting people to lose weight lowers their risks of all kinds of comorbidities – such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes – and improves their health in long term so they have a better quality of life.

How much did it cost to set up the service?

We already had all the equipment for weighing people in the pharmacy, so all we had to do was set up an account with Lipotrim.

What, if any, training did you or other team members have to undergo?

Lipotrim provides all the necessary training.

In a nutshell, what does the service involve?

We have weight management leaflets in the pharmacy and work closely with our local GPs as well, who refer people on to us. Once a year we also run a weight management campaign as part of our Healthy Living Pharmacy promotions. Aside from that, we tend to leave it up to the patients to enquire further, as it is a sensitive matter so we try not to be the first to bring it up with people – although doing the NMS does give us the opportunity to discuss people’s lifestyle and mention weight management to them then.

We try to keep access to the service as open as possible so that as many people as need it are able to make use of it. For this reason, we don’t have bookable appointments and keep it as a walk-in service, and our technicians are trained to offer it as well as the pharmacist.

If someone is interested we offer two strands to the service. One is a counselling session where we explain to the person about keeping a food diary, healthy eating and exercise, to try encourage them to head in the right direction for healthier living.

The other element is the Lipotrim service, which is only available from the pharmacy [rather than over the counter]. The first consultation is lengthy because we take a full background of the patient, weigh them and work out their BMI so we can see how they are progressing over time. We work with the patient to set realistic weight loss goals and a plan of how to get there, and see them once a week to check how they are getting on and offer ongoing support.

It does require a lot of commitment because they have to stop all solid foods and stick to the food replacement sachets, and drink a high volume of water. This initially puts their body into ketosis, which leaves them with a furry tongue, so it’s not a particularly pleasant experience to start with, but this eases off a couple of weeks into the diet.

There is also a ‘maintenance’ phase when the patient reaches a happy medium between their old lifestyle and their new lifestyle, where they start to reintroduce normal meals and come off the sachets. This is a crucial stage for us to keep supporting them because they can gain a little weight and feel a bit disheartened, so it is important to keep them focused on sticking to their new healthy lifestyle rather than giving up.

Are there any opportunities to sell OTC or prescription products during or after the consultation?

For us, this is about helping people change their lifestyle and supporting them in the direction of better health, so we don’t use it as a chance to sell any other products.

How have patients responded to the service?

They love it! It’s proven really successful and we have seen some fantastic results. One person made a YouTube diary of their progress, and we’ve also seen another patient with hypertension get it down to normal and come off their blood pressure medication entirely.

Roughly how often each month do you carry out the service?

Pre-Covid we would generally see five to 10 patients a week for the weight management service, with a couple of peaks in the year around new year and then just before the summer.

How much do you charge for the service?

The general weight management advice is free, but Lipotrim is a private service so the patient has to pay for the products.

Roughly how much a month do you make from offering the service?

Figures not available.

Would you recommend offering this service to other contractors?

Yes, definitely. We believe all pharmacies should have such a service because healthy living is more about prevention than treatment.

Read more case studies on healthy living services.