Gowerton, South Wales
With a brand-new contract to provide pharmacy services to the residents of Gowerton in South Wales, Daniel Jones knew he was presented with a rare opportunity.
From this clean slate, Daniel would be able to design a pharmacy that was truly fit for the 21st century, drawing on his many years of experience working in the sector.
To help shape his offering, Daniel conducted a survey among the growing local population, who were placing increasing demand on current pharmacy providers in the area.
The residents of Gowerton, which has a large working population, responded to say they were looking for more open space within the pharmacy setting as well as a hassle-free collection experience. Daniel, having always worked in busy pharmacies, knew that managing queues and limiting wait times was a key priority and he already had the answer.
The Pharmaself24 Solution
Daniel had first heard about the Pharmaself24 from Ali Sparkes, owner of The Health Dispensary in Neath, and was
impressed by the concept. A demo at The Pharmacy Show confirmed to him that it would definitely form part of his
offering if he ever made the leap from Superintendent to pharmacy owner.
That opportunity eventually arose for Daniel in Gowerton and, after years of wrangling, his application for a new pharmacy was finally approved in September 2020. Members of the local community had supported the application through letters to the Welsh Government so there was already awareness that a new pharmacy was arriving.
When the doors were officially opened, Daniel capitalised on this momentum by communicating with local Facebook groups, who spread the message about the Gowerton Pharmacy and its new 24/7 collection service.
Among patients, uptake on the Pharmaself24 machine was quicker than expected, helped by the fact that the coronavirus pandemic had led to a surge in pharmacy demand along with a requirement for social distancing measures to be implemented in-store.
“We were doing a lot more collections than the projections we made. The local community really appreciated and adopted the convenience of the Pharmaself24.”
Today, the majority of the pharmacy’s patients are signed up to use the Pharmaself24, including many who were initially reticent but have come to realise the benefits through speaking to friends and family.
“With a large working population, we knew patients would benefit from 24/7 collection, but what was interesting to me was that it was not just that category who were using it. Retired patients were using the machine while they
were on their morning walk or passing by in the evening,” explains Daniel.
This reticence was also present among the pharmacy staff in the early days. Many had associated the use of automation in pharmacy with dispensing robots; plus staff thought any automation might be complex and may be not as fast as the quickest dispenser.
Within weeks, however, Daniel says they realised the Pharmaself24 was a different proposition, and the team has
collectively embraced the Pharmaself24, acknowledging the time savings it has generated. “The amount of pressure it relieves, even in our instance, is significant. For chemists who are really busy, it must be a god send,” says Daniel.
Many pharmacies across Wales are following in the path of Daniel and Gowerton Pharmacy, installing Pharmaself24 machines supported by grants from the Welsh Government.
They have been able to access the funding as part of a capital investment programme designed to increase uptake of automated prescription collection in Wales to help contractors in their ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The message from Daniel to anyone applying for a grant is unequivocal: “The Pharmaself24 is an investment I would make again, even if I didn’t have a grant. The machine is so much more useful to the community you serve, over and above anything like a dispensing robot. What I’ve realised is that it makes a real difference to the patient and that is the most iimportant factor of all.”