Rachel Carter speaks to Hitesh Tailor about how his pharmacy’s flu vaccination service makes a profit
Name of pharmacy: Village Pharmacy, Harlington.
Name of contractor: Hitesh Tailor.
How long have you been offering this service? Since 2015.
Why do you offer this service? To offer ease of use for the patient mainly. Some GP surgeries only offer flu vaccinations on particular days and sometimes the patient isn’t available on those days, they also sometimes don’t like waiting in a queue at the surgery for the injection, or sometimes it’s just too busy and they can’t get an appointment with the doctor.
If they know that we are offering flu vaccinations and it’s a walk-in service, then they are happy to just pop in during their lunch break for example. That’s why we’ve continued it and, not forgetting that we are a business, it’s a good revenue stream for us as well.
How much did it cost to set up the service? I don’t know the cost of the Patient Group Directions (PGDs) for private flu vaccinations because these were in place before I took over. But if you wanted to set up this service, you would need to purchase the PGDs and also pay for the initial training, which would be in the region of £100 to £200.
When I joined in November 2019, I also had to purchase my personal PGD, which enables me to administer the vaccines from this pharmacy. This cost £70. Compared to what you can get back in return from this service, the start-up costs are fairly minimal.
What, if any, training did you or other team members have to undergo? I undertook training with my previous employer, which covers me for the service here too. This included an online training on flu vaccinations and learning about flu itself, and a half day face-to-face event to learn basic CPR, how to administer adrenalin and how to administer the flu vaccination.
In a nutshell, what does the service involve? If a patient requests a private flu jab, we firstly bring them into the consultation room and go through a questionnaire. This is slightly different to the questionnaire for NHS vaccinations. It takes some basic details from the patient and consent to share their information with their registered doctor. We also ask the patient about any allergies, sensitivities, issues they may have had in the past and any cases of anaphylactic reaction. If there are no issues, then we provide some detail about the vaccination and administer it.
After the vaccination, we ask the patient to wait in the pharmacy for five to 10 minutes to ensure they are OK afterwards. We also supply them with a patient information leaflet and explain that if they have any issues they can always come back and see us. Finally, we supply a copy of their consent form, which can be taken to their surgery to update their medical records.
Are there any opportunities to sell over the counter or prescription products during the consultation or after it? If a patient wanted more of a holistic approach to being covered for getting the flu, then we could offer paracetamol if they get a fever, or vitamin C tablets, but very rarely have I had to link sell anything with a flu vaccination.
How have patients responded to the service? Very positively. I think it’s mainly the convenience aspect – they are not having to book at the doctors or book at a pharmacy, they can come in and ask for a flu vaccination, get it done and walk out again – all in 10 minutes.
Roughly how often each month do you carry out the service? The peak of the service is October and November, so during those months we’re usually looking at 90 to 100 patients per month (both private and NHS). Approximately 80% of those patients will be receiving NHS flu jabs.
Uptake starts to die down as you get closer towards Christmas and it’s also very dependent on the weather as well. I’ve found that when the weather gets very cold, a lot of people think about the flu vaccination. We might get a slight pick up in January, and then just the odd few through to March.
How much do you charge for the service? £15.
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. It not only increases the patient awareness about what we do and our role and responsibilities, but also helps to increase how highly regarded we are within a community. Offering this type of service shows that we are not just dispensing prescriptions and selling OTC medication, we are also professionals in our own right with the skills to deliver other services.