Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Alliance Healthcare Awards and a few changes in store.

It's been a bit of a week for Barnton Pharmacy.

Last Thursday Leanne and I went down to London for the Alliance Healthcare Pharmacy Awards where we were shortlisted for in Scottish Community Pharmacy of the the year category. We were delighted to win that award, especially given the other shortlised candidate runs a fantastic pharmacy - Alan Glaugh of John  A Smith Pharmacy - on the other side of Edinburgh.

The icing on the cake, however, was to walk away with the overall UK Community Pharmacy of the Year title as well - selected from the winners of all the awards on the evening. I guess you could view it as a "best of the the best" award, and a real achievement in pharmacy circles.

It was a great night for Scottish pharmacy all round with the hospital prize going to a team from NHS Glasgow and the retail prize going to John Connolly of Wishaw.

Buzzing with success and delighted with our awards, we headed back to Scotland on Friday after a very late night (and a bit of retail therapy on Oxford Street!)

On Sunday we rebranded our pharmacy - under the Alphega Pharmacy banner. The whole team mucked in (fuelled on bacon rolls) and really got the job done. Huge thanks to Willie, Hazel and Sandra and of course our long suffering partners Nick and Alex.

We hope you agree the results are impressive and befitting of the "award winning" title.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Handbags and Gladrags....London here we come!

We're off to London tonight for the Alliance Healthcare Pharmacy Awards. The handbags and the gladrags are packed and there may even be a bit of time for a manicure before the big event this evening.

Barnton Pharmacy are shortlisted in two categories*; "Scottish Community Pharmacy of the Year" and "Alphega Pharmacy UK Pharmacy of the Year"

We are really pleased that our achievements since March 2010 are being recognised and all the hard work we have put in seems to be paying off. However, we are often so busy looking forward that we forget to look back and celebrate exactly what we have achieved. I thought I would use this blogging chance to do just that.

Since March 2010 we have:
  • increased our prescription volume by about 20%
  • 20 times more patients signed up to the minor ailments service who consult us regularly for their health concerns.
  • a very successful smoking cessation service with excellent quit rates
  • improved our customer service - judging by the chocolates and cards we receive from our loyal seems to have.
  • helped many people lose weight through our weight management programme
  • delivered on our vision of offering great pharmaceutical care in the community.
None of this would have been possible if it were just Leanne and I on our own. Our dedicated pharmacy team have worked really hard (through some tough times) to help us deliver our goals and we are truly grateful for that.

The fact that both Leanne and I can disappear to London and leave Hazel, Sandra and Willie to run the show is a credit to them! Thank did I mention I've got a train to catch!

*Watch this space for whether we win or not.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Antibiotic Awareness Day

Some of my favourite sounding drugs are antibiotics. Is it wrong to have favourite drugs?
Moxifloxacin sounds to me like a character in a children's book, but is actually  fourth-generation synthetic fluoroquinolone antibacterial agent.
One of my favourite pharmacy jokes has an antibiotic as the punchline*. I know, pharmacy jokes....wrong! I definitely need to get out more.

So today is antibiotic awareness day which is aimed at raising awareness of the appropriate use of antibiotics in order to reduce antibiotic resistance which happens when antibiotics become ineffective against certain bugs, generally through inappropriate prescribing or use.

The main messages for today are to reduce inappropriate use and prescribing

Inappropriate use includes:
  • not completing a course of antibiotics as prescribed
  • skipping doses of antibiotics
  • not taking antibiotics at regular intervals
  • saving some for later
Inappropriate prescribing includes:
  • unnecessary prescription of antibiotics
  • unsuitable use of broad-spectrum antibiotics
  • wrong selection of antibiotics and inappropriate duration or dose of antibiotics
In short. Antibiotics are not always the answer. Take care. Not antibiotics!

*Q. What do you use an erythrotrap for?
A. To catch your erythromycin.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Lung Cancer Awareness Month

My Dad died of lung cancer in 2007. It was horrible. From diagnosis to death was mercifully short, but it was still horrid. He was 65. He had not smoked for 15 years. He was extremely fit and had plenty to live for. It wasn't fair!

Lung cancer is the UK's biggest cancer killer, claiming the lives of more than 33,500 people in the UK every year - more than leukaemia, breast and prostate cancer combined - yet it receives a mere 3% of all money spent on cancer research in this country. Perhaps it is perceived as an "unsexy" cancer, or a self- inflicted cancer? Whatever the reason, the numbers don't stack up.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness month which aims to raise awareness of lung cancer and of the signs and symptoms of the disease and encourage those at risk to visit their GP.

What are the key symptoms of lung cancer?
  • A cough that does not go away after more than three weeks
  • Worsening or change of a long-standing cough
  • Repeated or persistent chest infections
  • Blood in the phlegm
  • Unexplained persistent breathlessness
  • Unexplained persistent tiredness or lack of energy
  • Unexplained persistent weight loss
  • Persistent chest and/or shoulder pain
  • Unexplained persistent hoarseness
  • Unexplained swelling of the face and neck
What are the top 5 myths about lung cancer?
Myth: Coughing up blood is the earliest sign of lung cancer
Fact: The first symptoms are often a persistent cough or persistent breathlessness
Myth: As a smoker, the damage is already done and there’s no point in giving up
Fact: Quitting at any stage reduces the risk of developing lung cancer and other diseases such as stroke or heart attack. Stopping smoking before middle age avoids most of the risk of smoking-related lung cancer.
Myth: Lung cancer is a male disease
Fact: In the 1950s, the ratio was 1 lung cancer case diagnosed in women for every 6 in men. That ratio is now 3 cases in women for every 4 in men.
Myth: Lung cancer is a death sentence
Fact: When lung cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, there are more treatment options and the chances of surviving it are greatly improved. When lung cancer is found at an early stage, treatment is 40 times more likely to be successful.
Myth: Lung cancer is only a smoker’s disease
Fact: Although smoking is the chief cause of lung cancer, around 1 in 10 cases are not linked to smoking.

So back to my dad. Nothing I have written here can change the fact that my dad died six weeks before my wedding and that he didn't live long enough to meet three of his six grandsons or the seventh grandchild due in February, but perhaps with more funding for research into lung cancer and its treatment, other families can have longer with their loved ones.

The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is the ONLY charity dedicated to defeating lung cancer. They are an excellent source of support and information on this disease.

They could really do with your support this month.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Ask Your Pharmacist - we might even know the answer!

This week is "Ask Your Pharmacist" week.

So far this week, I have been asked a number of questions I wasn't expecting:
"Do you sell shoelaces?"
"Can you tell me how to get to Telford College?"
"Where do you keep your men's combs?"
Nothing will, however top the question I was asked when I worked in a supermarket pharmacy some years ago by a harassed shopper on Christmas Eve: "Do you stock turkeys?"!

But seriously....I have also been asked to show a patient how to use their asthma inhaler, I have been asked for advice on stopping smoking and losing weight. I have answered numerous questions about flu vaccinations and I have helped a lady who was "in a fankle" with her medication.

The idea behind "Ask Your Pharmacist" is to shift the focus from seeing your local pharmacy as a place for just getting your prescriptions dispensed to a centre for advice and information about general health and well being as well as medicines advice. The week is organised by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) who do a brilliant job of promoting and supporting the work of community pharmacy across the UK.

You might be surprised by the range and depth of knowledge available free of charge and without an appointment at your local pharmacy.

So go on: Ask Your Pharmacist - they might even know the answer!!

PS: We didn't have any turkeys or shoe laces. but we did have men's combs and we could help you find the local college!

Friday, 4 November 2011

When to use a food supplement?

  • Are you really busy at the moment and not eating properly?
  • Are you feeling under the weather or are you recovering from an illness?
  • Are you doing a lot of exercise and feel exhausted as a result?
  • Do you need a pick me up or energy boost?
  • Have you recently lost weight ?
  • Are you not cooking properly for yourself?
If so, you could be undernourished! We are constantly being told about obese Britain and how 70% of us in the UK are overweight, but did you know that around 3 million people in the UK are undernourished?

There are a number of causes for weight loss and undernourishment and serious causes need to be considered, but there are lots of more common reasons which may affect all of us at one time or another:
  • A reduced appetite perhaps after an illness or an operation
  • Stress can cause people to stop eating regular meals
  • Busy lifestyles can lead to food becoming less of a priority for some
  • Athletes undergoing training may not be receiving the correct nutrients to compenste for additional exercise
  • Older people may not require as much food, but care is needed to ensure that what is eaten is healthy and nutritional.
Being undernourished can lead to serious consequences. As well as feeling weak or tired it can lead to a reduced immune system which then means it takes longer to recover from illnesses. All of this can have a real affect on mood.

A healthy balanced diet should include a variety of fruit and vegetables, plenty of calcium rich foods, some carbohydrate and protein. if this is not always possible it may be worth considering dietary supplements such as Complan.

This supplements come in powder form and contain essential vitamins and minerals, calcium, iron and protein. They should be made up with whole milk and taken up to three times a day.

Come and speak to us at Barnton Pharmacy if you are worried about your weight and think you may need a supplement.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Itchy & Scratchy - dealing with eczema

At this time of year, most people find their skin is drier than normal, but what happens when that becomes a problem which won't go away?

Eczema is a long term dry skin condition which affects about 1 in 12 adults in the UK. It appears as dry or flaky skin anywhere on the body and can be very itchy.
Itching leads to scratching, which can lead to the skin breaking down, becoming cracked and sore and possibly infected.
There are a number of different types of eczema but essentially we can treat them all in a similar way. 

Emollient treatment
The mainstay of eczema treatment should be avoiding flare ups by regularly using an emollient product to trap water in the skin and also by avoiding triggers which cause flare ups.

There are many different emollients (including dermol, E45, oilatum and many more....) available from your local pharmacy but the key to treatment is regular use of lots of emollient.

In addition soap products should be avoided as these strip the skin of its natural oils. instead consider using a bath additive (e.g E45 bath or oilatum) to soak into the skin and trap even more moisture.

Steroid creams (e.g. hydrocortisone) may well still be needed for flare ups, but regular and frequent use of emollients can reduce the number of flare ups and so reduce the amount of steroids required which is much better in the long run.

Top tips for managing dry skin
  • Hoover often to reduce dust and therefore dust mites if these are a trigger for you.
  • Were cotton clothes which are much less irritant than other materials.
  • Use unperfumed washing powder and avoid fabric softeners.
  • At bath time, don't have the water too hot and pat dry with a towel afterwards rather than rubbing.
  • Drink lots of water every day
  • Apply emollients before and after swimming as chlorine can be a trigger for some people
  • The National Eczema Society website contains loads of really useful resources and practice advice for people with eczema and their families
Eczema in children
Itchy kids can be miserable. The same principles outlined above apply to treating children with eczema, but there are some great kids products available too.
E45 have teamed up with Peppa Pig to bring you Peppa's Big Bubble Bash. There are really useful questions and answers on the website as well as loads of games and interactive fun.