We meet Abdool Kureeman, Alitam pharmacist and relative of founder Feisal Nahaboo.
Back in November 2019 Alitam was just an idea. Born out of a series of conversations between Feisal and his father’s cousin Abdool Kureeman, a highly successful community pharmacist in Surrey with a wealth of experience and insights into the pharmacy sector. “I was explaining how pharmacists have been consistently undervalued and underused,” says Abdool. “How we’ve proved our capabilities over the years and how the landscape is evolving. Feisal looked into the remuneration models and accounts, and it was like a fire being lit. After the success of the accountancy group Xeinadin, Feisal was sure the pharmacy sector would benefit from similar disruption. We began brainstorming and soon a new model for pharmacy was created. By December 2019 Alitam was a reality.”
Abdool has practised as a pharmacist since 1985 and testifies to the superiority of community pharmacy over the large multiples. “I look after everyone who walks through my door,” he explains. “That’s why we’ve thrived, I put my patients first. One of my current pharmacies was the first contract awarded under new NHS regulations in 2013 after the closure of a branch of a large pharmacy group. I moved into new premises and started from scratch, but within 7 years I’ve taken it to a very profitable business. We’re part of the fabric of the community because we care. This is where the gold is, and Alitam will help us find even more.”
Indeed, Abdool sees Alitam’s offering as a natural evolution of the increasing clinical and well-being services delivered by community pharmacies. “With the advent of Patient Group Directions, we’re already evolving towards a much greater clinical role,” he explains. “Having undertaken a relatively simple training, we’re giving out prescription medicines in certain circumstances, for example weight management, so customers need not wait for a GP appointment. We develop a strong relationship with customers on their health journey which, in itself, is a huge boost to them. And beyond this, I see clearly how community pharmacies can gain a bigger share of the over-counter trade by identifying innovative health care products and services to better meet our customers’ needs.”
Group power, local difference
Abdool is fulsome in his praise of Feisal, “Where we are with Alitam is incredible, far beyond my wildest dreams,” he laughs. “Although, knowing Feisal and his phenomenal work ethic, it’s not really a surprise. He thinks so creatively about all the revenue streams and ways to better serve our customers. But also, about the healthcare model overall, and how pharmacists should be empowered to fill the enormous gaps which are widening by the day. Characteristically, he’s amassed an impressive team around him, people who are way out in front and totally dedicated to the cause.”
Aside from his pride in Feisal, and the huge optimism and energy Alitam has injected into Abdool’s working life, what in particular excites him? “Group power,” he says immediately, “adjusted to local needs. As this formidable group, we have more negotiating power and potentially huge influence. We can run pilot schemes, for instance, and submit meaningful results. But this will never lead to a ‘one size fits all’ approach to pharmacy. On the contrary, we will be maximising the power of each local pharmacy to make a difference to our neighbours’ lives. This is why the model cannot fail.”
Feisal could not be more grateful to the man he calls ‘uncle’. “From the first conversation to the full creation of another corporate miracle, Abdool has been a complete inspiration. He is the reason we are here. Previously I had never spoken about the pharmacy world to anyone. After just an hour with him my eyes were opened. We all owe an enormous debt of gratitude to this incredible man.”