Support sees people vote with feet

SINCE August last year, nurse Louise Holliday has been leading pharmacy services in the heart of North East communities promoting health lifestyles.

SINCE August last year, nurse Louise Holliday has been leading pharmacy services in the heart of North East communities promoting health lifestyles.

Pharmacy chain Healthcare Plus took Louise on to manage services across a number of branches, including ones in Stocksfield, Northumberland, and Felling, Gateshead.

And now customers can book-up for their HealthCheck service, which measures a range of health factors, including cholesterol levels, blood pressure, body mass index, body fat percentage, aerobic fitness and blood sugar levels.

Importantly results from these basic tests can alert the pharmacist to a range of potentially dangerous conditions which the customer could be at risk of getting, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

One service in particular which has really taken off is Healthcare Plus’ weight management scheme, where customers can get support and advice from Louise about losing weight in a realistic way.

“Most people who come to see me have tried every diet going and nothing is working for them,” said Louise, who qualified as a nurse in 2002.

“We do an initial consultation of 15 minutes where we’ll measure the customer’s Body Mass Index, body fat and waist/hip ratio. Ideally we want them to lose around one or two pounds a week so we work out a realistic target for them and calculate how many calories they should be having.

“Of course, I’ll give general advice about eating well and exercising, and give them a calorie counter, but to be honest most people know about all of that already.

“What is important about the service is that they will see me every week and that support can be really helpful. Having someone to report to provides a lot of motivation.”

The service sees around 20 people a week in Healthcare Plus pharmacies across the North East and is already seeing encouraging weight loss results.

“We believe that using nurses in community pharmacy can be very successful, and the skills and expertise of nurses and pharmacists often complement each other very well,” said Roger Pilsbury, director of HF Healthcare, who run Healthcare Plus pharmacies.

“Interestingly, our customers don’t appear surprised at seeing a nurse in our pharmacies, and are voting with their feet by using the service.

“The NHS is changing, professional barriers are being broken down and pharmacists can no longer practice in professional isolation.”

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