Congratulations to Lindsey Fairbrother, Independent Pharmacist of the Year!!
Lindsey Fairbrother, who runs Good Life Pharmacy in Derbyshire, was named Independent Pharmacist of the Year for the inspiring way she and her team have met – and continue to meet – their community’s needs despite the challenges of the Covid pandemic.
Her pharmacy was already providing a range of services but has risen to new heights in the battle against the virus, ensuring patients continue to have access to health information and medicines. Lindsey also revealed she has set up a vaccination centre, which she describes as “the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life”.
“It’s 24/7 but it’s got to be done. It’s something that brings the community closer to the pharmacy. I’m working with local volunteers, the local parish council, and people in the village are supporting me because I cannot do this on my own,” she said.
She opened her pharmacy about 10 years ago and has not looked back since, training as an independent prescriber, launching services such as a yellow fever and travel clinic and promoting community pharmacy through her work on her local pharmaceutical committee and as a primary care network lead.
Following swingeing government funding cuts, Lindsey knew she would have to reduce her reliance on NHS income to protect her business and has opened a private prescription service using her IP qualification, growing the pharmacy’s annual income impressively.
Although Covid-19 put paid to further service developments, she has continued to offer UTI and infected skin treatment services through virtual and face-to-face consultations. Her instant response to Covid-19 was not to wait for a national medicines delivery scheme but get community volunteers in place to deliver medicines to vulnerable people.
The nearest surgeries to her pharmacy, and the closest pharmacies, are in neighbouring villages so Lindsey and her team are the only providers of healthcare in their immediate area. She insisted her award was recognition for community pharmacies across the UK.
“Most pharmacists up and down the land are working as hard as I am, so it’s a recognition for everybody,” she said. “It’s been an odd time because pharmacists are people persons and we expect to see patients and spend time with them, but with Covid that has been denied because we can’t see people.
“We can talk to people over the phone but it’s just not the same, so we’ve lost part of what is unique and what is special about us. At the same time, though, we’ve been holding the hand of the public because we are accessible.”
Lindsey suggested the pandemic has accentuated community pharmacy’s social care role. In short, she said, pharmacy teams are there to listen to any concerns people, particularly vulnerable people, want to get off their chest.
“We just reassure people who are often lonely, particularly in the pandemic, because people can’t see each other or their families,” she said.
“What we do is very special and although we’ve had to adapt and change, we’ve done that amazingly well. It might feel uncomfortable at times, but everyone has stepped up and I’m really proud of the whole pharmacy workforce – me and my team and all pharmacies across the land.
“We’re helping each other a lot more as a profession which is great, particularly as an independent pharmacist because often you feel quite alone.”