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Back pain service: ‘Patients are happy this option is available to them in the pharmacy’


By Rachel Carter

28 Jan 2020

Rachel Carter speaks to Zuber Patel from Audley Late Night Pharmacy, Blackburn, about his pharmacy’s men’s health service and how this helps patients with back pain.

Service type: Back pain.

Name of pharmacy: Audley Late Night Pharmacy.

Name of pharmacist: Zuber Patel.

Why did you start offering the service?

I’ve been offering this service since 2019. It was part of a package of private services I was purchasing. Along with travel vaccines, there were all these other men’s health services we could get as part of it, so we decided to take it on.

How much did it cost to set up the service?

In the region of £2,000.

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

The men’s health services package we purchased includes a range of Patient Group Directions (PGDs) for services such as acid reflux, back pain, erectile dysfunction, ear infection and hair loss.

For each of the PGDs, I had to complete an online training with PharmaDoctor, which involved studying the relevant information, guidelines and inclusion criteria, and then completing an assessment. As the pharmacist is the only one who is authorised to carry out the PGDs, I’m the one who undertook the training. However, afterwards I filled all the staff in on how to capture patients who are interested and the initial, over the counter screening questions they can ask.

In a nutshell, what does the service involve?

Taking the back pain PGD as an example, if a patient comes in and enquires about this service, the first step is to give them a form to fill in. This form includes all their personal details and asks a series of questions including, for example, any allergies they may have, whether they’ve ever had an anaphylactic reaction to naproxen, aspirin, or ibuprofen, if they have asthma, any stomach, liver, kidney or heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes and so on. This is to rule out any contraindications and check whether there are any previous reactions we need to know about.

The form also includes a list of signs and symptoms of back pain and the patient is asked to tick those that are relevant. They are also asked if they are already receiving treatment.

Once the form is complete, we take the patient into the consultation room, go through their responses and undertake a clinical assessment. If appropriate, we then offer treatment.

Are there any opportunities to sell over the counter or prescription-only products during the consultation or after it?

With back pain, we give naproxen if they are clinically safe to take it but obviously we can sell paracetamol tablets alongside this, or sometimes the patient might need some heat relief. So there are products we can give to compliment naproxen and we would discuss those.

What response have you had from patients?

Patients have responded well across all the men’s health services. For patients with back pain, they are obviously in pain, but getting an appointment at the GP is going to be a nightmare and they just want something to be done straight away, so they are happy that they have all these options available for them within the pharmacy. We are also a late night pharmacy and open throughout the weekend, so we’re able to offer these services at times when a GP can’t be seen.

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

It’s not too often for the back pain service. We’ve not done a lot of marketing at this stage, but just the fact that patients have got these options available when they come to this pharmacy is good.

How much do you charge for the service?

The consultation is free so to speak and we sell the naproxen for £12, which is for 28 tablets.

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

It’s difficult to say, it’s still in its early stages. The whole package was quite expensive to purchase, but we have basically broken even and I think it’s money well invested.

The money isn’t in dispensing now and going forward it’s all about services and the different clinical services we can offer, so I think definitely it’s definitely an improvement to be offering these things.

Would you recommend offering this service to other contractors?

Yes. I think a lot of men shy away from looking into their health issues, so having different services available for them, and being one of the different access points for these services, is a good thing – to help them look after themselves and offer somewhere to come where they feel comfortable.

Read more case studies on pain management services.


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