Rachel Carter speaks to Mohamed Imran Lakhi about Halliwell Late Night Pharmacy's novel vaccination service for patients going on pilgrimage.
Service type: Vaccinations - meningitis ACWY / Hajj and Umrah Pilgrimage.
Name of pharmacy: Halliwell Late Night Pharmacy, Bolton.
Name of pharmacist: Mohamed Imran Lakhi.
Why did you start offering the service?
We've been offering this service since 2010. It was something niche and novel – at that time, there weren’t many pharmacies vaccinating, so it was fairly new. I also wanted to do extra private services and I knew that there would be a niche market for this.
How much did it cost to set up the service?
Around £2,000.There was a training cost, which was quite high at the time because this service was less commercialised than it is now and there weren’t as many providers. We had new leaflets printed and paid for around 40,000 leaflet drops, as well as extra marketing in the pharmacy itself. We also purchased the emergency kits we needed with adrenaline pens.
We’ve used a number of PGD providers over the years, but we currently use Voyager. The meningitis ACWY PGD is part of a large bundle, which costs us around £1,500, but the individual cost would probably be around £100.
We had a large enough consultation room to start delivering the service, so then it was just the time taken training the staff, telling them about the vaccination, how to make the appointments and how to market it.
What, if any, training did you or other team members have to undergo?
Two other pharmacists and I offer the Hajj and Umrah service. There is a practical, face-to-face training to do every two years, which usually involves a full day and is followed by an online assessment that we have to pass. There is also an online refresher training every year, which we must pass too.
In a nutshell, what does the service involve?
Patients either come into the pharmacy or call us. All members of staff know what’s required for the service, so if the person wants more information, the staff or I would take the phone call. We explain to patients that they need the vaccination ideally 10 days before they go on the pilgrimage, that there will be a risk assessment form to complete when they come in, and they need to wear loose clothing. We then make a booking in the diary.
When the patient comes in, we give them a consent form to sign. The next step is to go into the consultation room and provide some more information about the vaccination, how long it lasts, any side effects and the certificate.
The vaccination needs to be mixed prior to injection, so I would do this and then administer it. I need to keep the patient for 10 minutes afterwards, so I use this time for my admin work. I will be observing and talking to them as I write up their certificates. It’s a one-off vaccine and it’s all done in one go.
Are there any opportunities to sell over the counter or prescription products during the consultation or after it?
Yes we try to, but people using this service don’t tend to go for other things. We find we are more likely to get a link-sale for things like malaria tablets, insect repellants, or suntan lotion from people using our travel health service.
How have patients responded to the service?
The response has been really marvellous. I pride myself on customer service, so I really dedicate my time with the patients - I think they appreciate that, and they bring back a lot of family members and friends to use the service.
Word of mouth gets spoken and we are quite well known in the area as the first point of call for this service. I also visited a lot of GP surgeries when I opened up the full travel vaccine service - not just the meningitis ACWY, which obviously I’ve been doing for a long time - and they told me that patients had been really satisfied and had said good things about us.
Roughly how often each month do you carry out the service?
It really varies - but a conservative estimate would be 50 patients a month.
How much do you charge for the service?
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, I would say so - pharmacists are highly skilled and we are under-used as health professionals, so the more services we do the better it is for us.