Panel hears of useful service

A MORPETH pharmacy’s initiative to keep people’s ears spick and span could be rolled out across the country.

After applying for the NHS Innovation Challenge, the Health Hut in Kirkhill was selected as one of three finalists for the ‘reducing avoidable attendances in primary care’ category.

Owner Nadeem Shah and his assistant Jonathan Dolan did a 10-minute presentation in front of an expert medical panel about its ear care service, which saves time and expense for GPs and nurses.

Many residents have already benefited from having their ears examined and cleaned without having to make an appointment with a clinic and waiting many weeks.

If the Health Hut is chosen as the winner, it will receive Government funding to help other pharmacies in the UK to establish the service. Even if it is not successful, Mr Shah hopes that some support can be provided.

“There are no regulations to stop ear irrigations being carried out by people who are not doctors, if they get fully trained like I did,” he added.

“Patients are pleased because they can walk in and ask for the service, it is a potential area of growth for pharmacies and there are clear cost and time benefits for the NHS, although we were still shocked to get through to the final three in the category.

“It is beneficial for the business, but it is primarily about helping to improve people’s everyday health and I have made a few home visits to support more isolated residents.

“It is a simple idea which can have a big impact across the country. It would be great to get the money so I could be involved in pilot programmes at suitable pharmacies that have enough space to store the equipment and carry out the procedure, but even if we don’t win, getting this recognition is amazing and hopefully it will be helpful in enabling us to develop the service.”

Mr Shah has also discussed his initiative with the National Pharmacy Association, which represents a group of independent pharmacies. The organisation funded his indemnity insurance.

The NHS Innovation Challenge panel will soon make its recommendations on the category winners and prize fund amounts to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, who will then decide whether or not to approve them.