Hari Hodgetts, pre-reg pharmacy technician at Ty Elli Pharmacy, talks to Saša Janković about running a smoking cessation service.

Service type: Smoking cessation service

Name and location of pharmacy: Ty Elli Pharmacy, Llanelli

Name of pre-reg pharmacy technician: Hari Hodgetts

When did you start offering this service?

I started the training in July 2021 and finished in August, and then took over running the service from our pharmacist, who was doing it before that.

Why did you start offering this service?

It started off with it being offered around the team for whoever wanted to do it, to try to free up the pharmacist’s time. I really wanted experience on getting more one-on-one with patients as I’m studying my NVQ Level 3 to be a technician, so for me the more things I could get good at in the pharmacy, the better.

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

I’m doing my NVQ3 anyway but I did extra training to offer this service – it was on the NESA online training platform where you can do lots of different courses to offer pharmacy services, with a few seminars over Zoom.

In a nutshell, what does the service involve?

Patients normally come to us via signposting from their GP, but I also find them through conversations with customers in store.

I will take them to the consultation room and go through a questionnaire to find out how dependent they are on smoking and whether the service will be suitable for them. For some people it’s not practical if they are super heavy smokers who need tablets from the doctors.

If we do decide to go ahead we talk about what products they want – patches, gum, inhalators or whatever works best for them – and then I’ll see them once a week for a 12-week course. For the last four weeks I see them once a fortnight with a two-week supply.

Are there any opportunities to sell OTC or prescription products during or after the consultation?

With this service patients can get two products: one is a patch and for the other they can choose from either gum or lozenges or inhalators. I recently had a lady who didn’t want the patch but wanted to have the inhalators and the gums instead. I can’t provide both of those to her on the service – I can only provide the patch plus one other – but I could give her the opportunity to buy the lozenges separately, once I’d worked out if it was a safe option for her.

How have patients responded to the service?

I like to get to know my patients a bit so I can personalise the consultation for them, so the next time I meet them I can tailor it in a way that means something to them. For example, I had one patient who told me she loved Freddie Mercury so when she came back I’d printed off pictures of him with speech bubbles saying ‘You can do it!’, and she loved it.

I’m seeing one gentleman now whose girlfriend is also a smoker and I encouraged him to bring her in as well. He’s a really heavy smoker and trying his best to quit, so they are both encouraging each other with it.

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

It’s still early days for me but at the moment I’m seeing one or two patients a month.

How much do you charge for the service?

It’s free to the patient.

Would you recommend offering this service to other contractors?

Yes, definitely. Giving up smoking by yourself is so hard, so if you can offer this service in your pharmacy with trained staff, for free, it’s brilliant for people who can’t get that sort of support elsewhere.