A town which has faced a pharmacy crisis leaving elderly residents going without their medication and queuing out the door for over an hour have a new independent pharmacy. Pontardawe Pharmacy has replaced Lloyds Pharmacy on Herbert Street and will be run by the same family behind Penclawdd Pharmacy.
Owner Jonathan Rees said the overwhelming emotion among customers following the opening of the pharmacy on Monday, August 21 was “relief and hope that things will improve.” When WalesOnline spoke to customers of Lloyds Pharmacy last year one local resident with a heart condition told us she had gone up to a week without medication and explained she often travelled by bus after being told her prescription was ready only to come back empty handed.
Pharmacist and owner Jonathan hopes things will change now the independent pharmacy has replaced Lloyds. “We thought we provide a good service in Penclawdd and we could provide the same service to Pontardawe. We’d heard from various sources that there have been difficulties and we saw an opportunity here to come in and provide that high level of service and patient care and our business can flourish as a result of that.” You can get more Swansea news and other story updates straight to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletters here.
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Jonathan’s father Huw has owned the Penclawdd Pharmacy for 40 years and his son described him as a “huge part of the community” in a recent social media post. Jonathan and his wife Stacey took over the running of Penclawdd Pharmacy back in 2020 and now hope to become an integral part of the community of Pontardawe, he said.
The first point of call was addressing the staffing issues at the Pontardawe pharmacy, which was operating with just three members of staff. “We’ve got a good working relationship with the local surgery so we were aware of what the issues were and we’re pretty confident that we have the ability to get on top of them quite quickly,” said Jonathan, who added they will be doubling the number of staff members working at the pharmacy in the next few weeks.
“That’s what will help the work flow – it frees up the pharmacist to provide the services and to deal with patients on the counter and talk to the local community and give them the best healthcare. You can only do that when the dispensary is efficient and correctly staffed. Secondly – being independent – we have the ability to buy from different suppliers so the ability to acquire stock should improve.”
On what changes will be implemented to avoid the issues which customers have faced in the past, Jonathan said: “The biggest issue here is the ability to turn around prescriptions quickly and also attaining stock. So if patients are ordering in good time, they want their medication to be available for them before they run out. From there, we’ll build on extra service delivery like the Common Ailments Scheme and our independent prescribing which will take workload off the GP, so hopefully they will freed up capacity as well.”
“As the prescriptions come in we’ll be completing them in the same day. Any stock that needs to be ordered should come in the following day. So people who come in for their prescriptions should be able to come in, collect them and leave without having to queue and wait. Obviously there will be pinch points as there always is, but we’d like to think we’ll be much more efficient moving forwards.”
Sioned Williams MS has been vocal about the issues facing residents of Pontardawe for over a year. On the news of the independent pharmacy coming to the area, she said: “I have been raising residents’ concerns about the level of pharmacy service provided in Pontardawe for well over a year with both the local health board and Welsh Government. While some problems still remain, I’m very glad to see an independent community pharmacy open here.
“Given the great quality of service I saw when I visited the owners at their pharmacy in Penclawdd, I am confident this will be a valuable asset to the community which will hopefully alleviate some of the serious problems residents have experienced.”
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