Pharmacist, St Anne's Pharmacy
The business is run by me and Karen Smillie. We first worked together at another pharmacy in the town: Karen was the manager and I joined as a technician when I was 16. After several years I left to do my pharmacy degree but eventually we got together again and agreed that Lewes needed another pharmacy, so we put the wheels in motion. We’ve just celebrated our tenth anniversary of being in business.
Being an independently-owned pharmacy is unusual these days. There's a huge amount of background work, whereas the multiples have a head office that deals with all the red tape and that sort of thing. But they haven't got the flexibility we have. Most of our business is from prescriptions, not over-the-counter sales. It’s different for the multiples because they have a huge retail side.
We buy all the drugs. A lot of people don't realise this. So if you go into a pharmacy with your prescription and they've got your medication on the shelf, it's because they've ordered the products and are hoping someone will need them. We can buy thousands of pounds of drugs but it comes out of our pocket. The NHS will only pay us when we've given a patient the medication that’s listed on their prescription.
People tend to contemplate New Year's resolutions in January, so it's a good time of year to think about health: diet, exercise and giving up smoking. It’s relatively quiet for us, although the lead-up to Christmas is absolutely manic. Some people get in a panic about having enough medication because we're closed for four days, which causes a horrendous workload.
There's a lot we can do to help people manage their medical conditions. Often your pharmacist can help with extra information about your prescription. We also provide a particular service called a Medicine Use Review, where patients can discuss how they're using their medication and what problems they're having. You can come in and have a completely private consultation with a pharmacist.
I wish people would keep their medication in its original packaging. The appearance of tablets and packaging can change, which means people can get muddled up and start taking the wrong amounts. And please don't order things you don't need. The NHS pays for the medicine - and if it's not used, the NHS also pays to have it incinerated.
Sometimes I cringe when people come in and say "I've got flu". It's very unlikely you'd be able to walk in if you actually had flu. I'm a big fan of those fizzy vitamin tablets like Berocca if you have a cold or you're surrounded by people who have colds. And Difflam Spray for really sore throats. But ask your pharmacist first!
As told to Mark Bridge
50 Western Road, Lewes BN7 1RP 01273 474645
First published in Viva Lewes magazine issue 112 January 2016