Rachel Carter speaks to Harjeet Jheeta about Chemycare Pharmacy's travel health service

Name of pharmacy: Chemycare Pharmacy, Birmingham. 

Name of pharmacist: Harjeet Jheeta.

How long have you been offering this service? Since 2018.

Why did you start offering the service? We wanted to offer more services for our customers and we thought it would increase revenue into the pharmacy as well. It was also a personal challenge for me as a pharmacist - it provided an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and develop more skills, which was something I wanted to do.

How much did it cost to set up the service? The Patient Group Direction (PGD) from PharmaDoctor cost in the region of £550 to £650 and we also paid to attend injection technique training, which was around £250.

What, if any, training did you or other team members have to undergo? In addition to the face-to-face injection training, I completed an online training on tropical diseases. This was available via PharmaDoctor and once this was completed, I was ready to go ahead and deliver the service.

In a nutshell, what does the service involve? The first step is to check what vaccinations the patient already has, which usually involves them finding out from their GP. Once we’ve established this, we then find out their trip destination and what vaccines they need.

If the patient meets the PGD criteria (it doesn’t cover people aged over 75 or under the age of two), then we book them in for an appointment. The PharmaDoctor e-tool allows us to enter the patient’s details online and tells us what vaccinations they require - we then go through this with the patient.

After administering the vaccines, we explain to the patient any possible side effects they might experience and when to seek medical attention. We can also enter the patient’s GP surgery details on the PharmaDoctor system, which automatically generates an email to their surgery confirming that the patient has been vaccinated. We also offer patients the option of dropping in a form to their surgery to let them know that their records require updating.

Are there any opportunities to sell over the counter or prescription products during the consultation or after it? It depends on where the patient is going - if they are going to a malaria zone, we would offer malaria tablets. We always give guidance on sun protection, so we can link sell with our suncream. We also offer insect repellant.

How have patients responded to the service? No one has provided any negative feedback so I’m assuming everyone’s happy. Some patients have also said that it’s been much easier to get an appointment with us for travel vaccinations than at their GP surgery.

Roughly how often each month do you carry out the service? We’re very early into the process - we haven’t completed a full year of trading with this service yet. In May, June, July and August last year we vaccinated around 10 patients each month. In November and December we didn’t see anyone, but this month (January) I’ve vaccinated five patients.

How much do you charge for the service? The consultation is free and charges depend on what the patient needs.

The lowest-costing vaccine is in the region of £35, but if the patient needs multiple vaccinations the costs are much higher. For example, for rabies we charge £55 per vaccine and three are needed, so that would be £165.

Roughly how much a month do you make from offering the service? We have broken even, but it’s still very early days for us.

Would you recommend offering this service to other contractors? Yes I don’t see why not. I think the way pharmacy is moving we can’t just stay as we are, we need to be more service driven. I’ve personally really enjoyed offering the service because of the patient contact. Dispensing is our bread and butter but this gives you the opportunity to do something a bit different from the everyday job, and that makes it a bit more exciting.

I did think it would be more lucrative than it has been so far, but we’re a smaller company. I think bigger companies who have the branding behind them and a website for booking in appointments may find it more lucrative.