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Flu vaccination service: ‘Patients like that they can just walk in’

Flu vaccination in a pharmacy

By Saša Janković

18 Oct 2021

Justin Gilbody, owner, superintendent pharmacist and non-medical prescriber (NMP) at Gilbody Pharmacy in Skegby, Nottinghamshire, talks to Saša Janković about the wide reach of his flu vaccination service.

Service type: Flu vaccination service

Name and location of pharmacy: Skegby, Nottinghamshire

Name of superintendent pharmacist: Justin Gilbody

When did you start offering this service?

Privately in 2012, and then the NHS version as soon as we were able to in 2015.

Why did you start offering this service?

We’d only been open for two years when we set up a private flu vaccination service as another string to our bow to increase revenue. We were a 100-hour pharmacy and wanted to be able to offer our customers as many services as we could out of hours.

After that, on days when I had a second pharmacist working I started to go do offsite flu vaccinations for staff at local schools (we do about 25 now), businesses, and – for a while – for East Midlands airport staff – and the service has grown from there. Eventually we were also able to do NHS vaccinations offsite as well, which is great as it makes it even more attractive for a business to have us in as they don’t have to pay for it.

How much did it cost to set up the service?

Nothing really. We built our pharmacy so had a consultation room anyway. We do provide our own sharps bins, and there is, of course, the cost of the vaccines to consider, because you can lose money if you don’t get your numbers right. Once pharmacy was able to do NHS vaccinations as well this made things even easier as I could order more vaccines and get a better price.

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

I keep up with whatever training is required every year.

In a nutshell, what does the service involve?

We run our flu vaccination service in the pharmacy for NHS and private walk-ins, and at all the offsites. I also do home visits for housebound vulnerable people who always seem to get missed off, and on a day off I will make a run of 20-25 house-to-house calls. Our pharmacy looks after 15 care homes as well, and I offer flu jabs to staff and residents in as many of the homes as want them. Tonight I could be jabbing until 10pm, as we have extended hours, and we will open some Sundays for flu vaccinations while we have them left.

How have patients responded to the service?

Our patient response is really positive. Some people still believe they can only get a flu jab from their GP, or that they have to go to the pharmacy next to the doctors, so they are really surprised – and pleased – when they find out we can do it for them. They like the fact they can just walk in, plus they tell us our extended opening hours are really helpful.

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

This year I expect to deliver 3,000 vaccines. I do 100 a day if I’m on duty – and a couple of years ago my record was 20 MURs and 51 flu jabs in a day, when I was the only pharmacist in a 22,000-item pharmacy.

How much do you charge for the service?

We charge £15 for a private flu vaccination – because we guarantee a pharmacist on the premises who will do it whenever we are open, and the cost to me has gone up exponentially. People are happy to pay it, especially as we don’t make them wait.

Would you recommend offering this service to other contractors?

Yes, everybody should. If multiples and GPs have trouble getting flu vaccine stock then independents can take advantage of this situation. However, pharmacists also have to remember that the GPs are the ones putting the money in your pocket for prescriptions, so don’t risk upsetting GPs in your area by taking their work. Find a way to be diplomatic while keeping patients as a priority at the same time.

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