An insight into the working practices of Philip Dawes.

Under the expert guidance of Philip Dawes, his 4 Devon pharmacies have established a reputation for delivering accessible person-centred professional services; customers provide consistently positive feedback about the care they receive. “Philip achieves the holy grail of excellent customer support, along with quick turnaround times,” says Alitam founder Feisal Nahaboo. “He understands the need to use business efficiencies and technology in order to enhance this offering. And he’s a passionate advocate for the role of the community pharmacist. He’s a fantastic fit for Alitam, it’s a meeting of minds.”

A service that goes beyond

Philip has 35 years of experience as a pharmacist under his belt, 8 years of which were spent managing 26 pharmacies for the National Co-operative Chemists. He is well placed to know what works. “One key factor is ease of access,” he explains. “Our flagship health centre store, Tavyside Pharmacy, is open 7 days a week, with closing times later than any other pharmacy in Tavistock. Although we fulfil the highest number of prescriptions in the area, we didn’t get the queues you often see in pharmacies; so during the pandemic our customers felt a lot safer visiting the pharmacy.” Philip is also about to install a Medpoint 24-hour prescription locker machine to offer round-the-clock accessibility for prescription collection, which will further reduce waiting times in the pharmacy and enable the team to focus on delivering services.

He continues, “The cornerstone of our business is the level of support we offer each and every customer. One example of this is our New Medicine Service. It’s an NHS initiative but we take it very seriously indeed. Starting a new course of treatment, often following a new diagnosis, is a highly important time for our customers – so we offer wraparound care. We counsel them on side effects and usage guidelines, then we follow up 7 days later. If customers are experiencing difficulties we consult directly with their GP and can quickly make any adjustments to the treatment protocol.”

Furthermore, Philip maximises his connection with the health centre. “Naturally, as part of a health centre, we enjoy close links with the GPs. However, again, we take this to the next level. We use Microsoft Teams to enable speedy communication between our pharmacy team and all the GPs and support staff. So, we can action urgent prescriptions, raise feedback on patients’ concerns, and share instant information about supply issues, prescription queries and drug interactions with the GPs. We receive amazing feedback from our customers, as very often we can deliver a prescription within a few hours in a rural locality.”

Philip’s pharmacies also offer a far wider range of vaccines than the norm, including the chicken pox, shingles, Hepatitis B and Pneumonia vaccine. “We’ve also had great success with running flu vaccine clinics offsite,” he adds. “We currently provide this service to the staff of a local private school, but we’re rolling this out to other local businesses now.”

The power of a team

While justifiably proud of his success to date, Philip is raring to go with all the opportunities Alitam affords. “Firstly, it’s amazing to be part of a team,” he smiles. “I love the cross-fertilisation of ideas and unique support which my Alitam peers can provide. That’s something I’ve definitely missed since my time with the National Co-operative Chemists. But, further to this, it’s all about effectively responding to the pressures in today’s marketplace and turning these into opportunities. We need to offer robust and efficient digital services, such as online platforms for customer interaction and appointment bookings. This will really improve the customer experience and allow pharmacists to spend more time with customers. I’m thrilled to be in a position now to adopt new private services and technology, this will catapult my business to the next level. It’s very risky as an independent to invest in such things, usually ‘in the dark’. But look at the knowledge bank I can access now! There’s a wealth of experience, supplier information and inside knowledge which is a game-changer for me.” Philip continues, “Alitam is the ultimate enabler, for me and my teams, for all of us members, and most importantly for our customers. It heralds a more empowering healthcare experience for all, and the significance of this will be felt for generations to come.”

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