Monthly Archives: January 2012

Waiting or calling back

A comment from @L1ttlepetal on twitter got me thinking about an extremely difficult question that we all ask patients numerous times an hour…….”Are you waiting or calling back (CB)”

You would think the only answers would be, ‘are you waiting’ or ‘CB’. Maybe so in a perfect world, but no, that would be too easy. Sometimes it is a confusing yes, making me repeat the question.

Here is a community pharmacy definition of waiting: sit down shut up and entertain yourself.

The term CB is most often ambiguous. Stepping out to the shop next door and coming straight back does not qualify as CB but it is the sign of an inpatient waiter.

It seems in pharmacy there are two extremes within the CB group. One being the few who nip out and come back impatiently assuming a quick exit can magically speed up the process of checking & dispensing.

RESULT:  *rolling eyes*

The second group, return only to sit down quietly and they have already missed the calls of some pharmacists checking and shouting their name before placing the medicine away and half an hour later, the patient impatiently queries how long its going to be. Half of this second group will wait and wait and dare not ask how long its going to be until will ask them.

RESULT: *rolling eyes*

I must give an honourable mention to those who are waiting but wait in the car.
For those with young kids, I am happy to bring the prescription out to them. For those who are parked illegally, thir prescription seems to take longer for us to do. I have no idea why ; )

Some strange people ask not to wait but want it delivered. I try to persuade them to take ten minutes out of their daytime tv, I mean busy schedule and wait for it.

Others ask for deliveries but pop in for it instead. They ask where their medication is. We say its with the driver. They ask where the driver is. We say that he’s probably at your house love. ( I personally adore deliveries. See last blog for more information).

Placing the CB or waiting script in the correct basket is the crucial step to avoid A SYSTEM COLLAPSE!!

Different pharmacies have their own systems, different coloured baskets, or hanging scripts in order, with further variations in filing for deliveries and DDS ,this can be confusing for locums or even a technician with a hangover.

Other ways of reaching a “A SYSTEM COLLAPSE” is placing the baskets in incorrect areas of the dispensary for the pharmacist to check.   The worst case scenario is filing a prescriptions away before dispensing, causing a prescription hunt upon the arrival of the patient.

RESULT: *panic at the pharmacy*

The final problem is when you haven’t written the time the prescription was handed in. Resulting in queue jumpers and providing perfect opportunities for grumpy people to be…grumpy!

RESULT: *panic at the pharmacy*

This made me remember how at university, I once handed in my prescription to the local pharmacy and said that I would call back the next day. The girl on the counter seemed annoyed and asked, ‘Why can’t you wait?’ The pharmacist looked at her in anger and asked ‘Don’t you think I’m busy enough???’ and said to me that he would see me tomorrow.

Even if you are waiting or CB, its never dull in pharmacy!



Nowadays, if you don’t offer a delivery service then you are losing customers. People expect a delivery service.

It used to be that only housebound patients were eligible for delivery. The rules have changed now. The 100 hour pharmacy down the road started offering it to anyone and now we have to do the same.

Its quite annoying when lazy jobless (but capable of work) people ask for deliveries. They can manage to drive to the shops to pick up cigarettes and alcohol but are unable to pick up their Champix and Campral themselves.

And then you have the ‘demanders’. These people want to know exactly what time the delivery will arrive so they don’t miss any of Jeremy Kyle. Others are perfectly happy for you to push it through the letterbox. They don’t understand that we need a signature. Most things that gets delivered needs a signature these days except takeaways. Ah, I see now why they get confused!

And then you have the urgent deliveries that always seem to be life and death. ‘The surgery are faxing it over’ they say. When the fax arrives, the gaviscon or paracetamol on it makes my BP rise steeply!

Don’t get me wrong. I would do anything to help my patients. I have frequently delivered medicines after work, on foot, even in the snow. Just don’t make me come and let me see your car in the driveway!!!!


Everybody loves upselling. This involves convincing a customer to buy a larger pack of the item that they wanted as it is generally better value.

Customer love it as they are saving money. Head office and management love it as they are making more money. Do I love it? Not always.

I feel uneasy when the assistant convinces someone to ‘go large’ on codiene containing products. Solpadeine Plus, Sopladeine Max and Nurofen Plus are a few examples. Less is more when it comes to combating codeine addiction.

Don’t get me started on the sleeping liquid, sorry I mean Benylin Chesty Original! Also do you really need 100 Senokot???

I’m not totally against it though. You can save 20% when you buy the bigger pack of Frontline Spot On. Ask instore for details!

Naughty kids

This is not about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is about the many naughty children that are brought into the pharmacies across the country by their parents and run wild.

A typical scenario is a 5 year old running around screaming, pulling boxes off shelves (not bottles if we are lucky). They are also infamous for treating lipsticks as glorified crayons, as they ruin the make-up section before jumping up and down on their seats with their muddy shoes. The brats don’t like it when I wrestle the chlamydia/EHC/Erectile Dysfunction leaflets away from them whilst trying to be polite in front of their overly protective passive parents.

However some parents decide to solve this problem by keeping the child’s hands occupied with doughnuts and sausage rolls whilst running around. I wonder to myself, are the kids like this at home? Probably so.

I am by no means advising spanking marathons in the pharmacy . That would create too much paperwork for me and is ethically wrong. I am merely asking for ‘the look’.

‘The look’  was designed and patented by my mum when I was young. She deployed it whilst we were out and I misbehaved in public. ‘The look’ stopped me in my tracks. ‘The look’ meant that she was legally unable to strike me in public but if I carried on, she would have a ‘discussion’ with me at home. It always worked.

Some parents don’t seem to care at all that their kids run riot in shops. Should we teach “the look”? …my new pharmacy lifestyle advice for the mental stability of parents and pharmacists of little rascals.

Death and Taxes

The American inventor, Benjamin Franklin once said that in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

I got a letter from the HMRC a few weeks ago. It was regarding the tax that I paid during my last year of university and my pre-reg. I genuinely did not understand whether I owed them money or vice versa. More about that later.

Its always sad to hear that one of your patients has passed away. Unfortunately, it is inevitable. Its a fact of life. You may have known the patient for years or just seen prescriptions for them recently.

It may be sudden and unexpected or the patient may be terminal and you are expecting it. Doctors and Nurses see a lot of death. I could not do what they do.

Unfortunately, you get a bin liner full of unused medication back too and you realise that you are not as good at MURs as you thought!

I got another letter from HMRC and a cheque. It turned out that they owed me money! Tax is inevitable but every once in a while, you get some good news. Although, I suspect that the HMRC will somehow find a way of making me pay more tax…