10 months ago a new pharmacy opened on the corner of Philip Ford Way and Silfield Road next to the new Co-op. For many years, people in Wymondham had been clamouring for another pharmacy to serve our community. So who made it happen and how did they do it? We sat down with the proprietors of MedPro Pharmacy and Clinic, Johnny Szeto and Victor Wai, to hear their story.
It was 10 years ago when Johnny and Victor met whilst studying to become pharmacists at the UEA. They became fast friends, both having travelled from Hong Kong to gain their education in Norfolk.
They took a higher level course to become prescribing pharmacists, which involved shadowing GPs in a surgery to learn more about talking with patients about their symptoms to accurately diagnose many types of ailments. Following graduation, they each worked in a variety of locations from independent pharmacies to chains such as Boots and Lloyd’s, as well as covering shifts across the region as locum pharmacists. This allowed them to gain insight into how a pharmacy business should be run.
Both living in Wymondham, Johnny and Victor were acutely aware of the need for another pharmacy to open in the town. The growing population of the Silfield area made them think this could be an ideal place for a new business.
As the ideas were brewing, they visited the UEA Enterprise Team who assist young businesses to get the initial funding and investment they need for their ideas to really take off. They were helped to prepare the business plan, marketing strategy and applications for funding. The advice paid off as Johnny and Victor were granted start-up funding to purchase equipment and prepare to offer more services.
The License for MedPro was set up as an online pharmacy to allow them to do free home delivery of NHS prescriptions. Johnny explained: “We set it up as an online pharmacy as it is so convenient for the customers. They just have to nominate us as their preferred pharmacy and the GP sends prescriptions electronically to us, then we bring it to them at home within a day or two. Especially after the pandemic people got really used to having everything delivered to their doorstep. With us they have that convenience but also the reassurance that we are local people and can help quickly with any questions. Urgent items such as antibiotics are often delivered the same day.”
In addition to the home delivery of NHS and private prescriptions, MedPro offers a wide range of clinical services. They will start offering flu jabs on 20th September. They also do a travel clinic which can provide everything you might need for trips to exotic places such as yellow fever certification, malaria tablets, and more. They can even do chicken pox vaccination as a private service, both for children and adults who haven’t had the infection.
Ear syringing is a treatment they have been offering more and more as the waiting list for NHS treatment has surged. “We can help people much more quickly. And in every appointment for ear syringing we first use an instrument to check inside the ear. Occasionally we can spot an infection during this and we would be able to immediately prescribe and dispense an antibiotic ear spray,” Victor said.
He continued: “Pharmacists nowadays can do a lot more for patients than before. Something like a skin infection we can easily see and prescribe medication. For example, someone with a suspected urinary tract infection (UTI) can have a dip test here, then have a private prescription and take home their medication straight away.”
“The most common issues are ear infections, strep A, UTI, blood pressure medications; we can even help assess asthmatic conditions and we can prescribe all the inhalers people might need. The main thing for a prescribing pharmacist is that they must be confident about their own competence regarding the type of medication and symptoms. If we are not confident, we would tell the patient they need to see their GP. We care deeply about what is best for the patient so if we are not sure we would not sell them something just to make money,” Victor clarified.
“Other than delivering private and NHS prescription services, we can remotely provide some advice on minor ailments and signpost the patients to other healthcare professionals. Our aim is to help people to live healthier lives, and reduce the demand for and delays in treatment and care in the community. We provide a smoking cessation program and weight management that align with the NHS long-term plan. We also provide a range of private blood tests to help assess the overall state of your health. ” Johnny explained.
You can nominate MedPro as your preferred pharmacy or book an appointment on their website medpro-clinic.co.uk, by phoning 01953 550169, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or dropping in to see them on the corner of Philip Ford Way and Silfield Road.