Reshma Malde talks about How to Take Control of your Health

Take Control of Your Health Reshma Malde interview


What’s the pressure like on the health service right now?

"I think the pressure is just as demanding as it was in the last few lockdowns at the beginning, albeit it might be a little bit different with a new variant that has come about. But in terms of strain on both GP services and hospital services, it's not that much different which is what we’re seeing with many patients coming through to the pharmacy, wanting to know where they can access healthcare services – which they would traditionally have gone to the doctors or hospitals for".

How can pharmacies help?

"Since the pandemic started, the pharmacy has very much played a vital role within our communities, in terms of looking at how they can develop new services to help the communities. What pharmacies have done is try to adapt services so that you can have a one to one consultation with your Pharmacist to assess whether a prescription medication would be more appropriate, therefore avoiding you going to the doctor unless there’s a need or referrals. Equally, many more pharmacies are looking at more testing and diagnostic services to help reduce some of that pressure that would normally be taken up a GP surgery".

There has been great change over the last twelve months, how challenging has that actually been?

"I think it’s been challenging for everybody, not just the public out there, but in terms of the local communities, to understand how we can support each other at this time of need. Understanding our patients needs has been what’s helped us evolve the service that’s available. So, for example, one of the things that we have looked at was supporting customers and patients to find how they can better improve and support their own health. We have introduced Nutrition Consultations with trained nutritionists, to help people understand how they can improve their diet, how to increase exercise within the day to day. So there are small wins that give bigger paybacks.

Many people are reluctant to call their GP at the moment, because we know that they’re struggling to get appointments, or they are really busy. How can a pharmacy help?

"The great thing about pharmacies is you don’t need to book an appointment! You can walk in and speak to pharmacists or the pharmacy team. We are an ideal place to be able to signpost you to particular services, should that be applicable, or to even give you some general advice on how to help manage some of those conditions. Pharmacists will be able to access if there are any what we call “red flag” symptoms that might then warrant you to go and make that phone call to the doctors. Very often there may be solutions that a Pharmacist may be able to recommend that can help you to manage that in the meantime".

What do you think the next 12 months is looking like from your point of view, as a Pharmacist?

"As a Pharmacist, it’s not been the greatest time last 18 months. The way our services have evolved to the general public, I really do hope that there are more and more services available through pharmacies that are much easier and accessible for our customers and patients to access. I would never even thought that the volume of COVID vaccinations that pharmacies have done in this pandemic would have been possible to do. It just goes to show that pharmacies are in exactly the right position and place to be able to offer these services to our communities. If we can do that, there’s so much more we can do to help as well".