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An integral part of the community

Over the last 23 years, Julie Hatton has become an integral part of her community as the shop manager at Rose Chemist.

Julie Hatton first started working in pharmacy 25 years ago after returning to work following the births of her three children. “I actually joined another pharmacy first for the perfume and beauty side,” she explains. “I got to know all different skincare and perfume brands and I really liked that.”

After a couple of years, the pharmacist sold up and the shop went online, leaving Julie without her job. “I thought ‘oh no, I was just getting into that’,” she says. “I picked myself up and thought right I’m going to just walk into this pharmacy and ask for a job and so I did. The next day the boss phoned me, I went for an interview, and I’ve been here for 23 years.”

Having worked her way up in the store as her kids got older, Julie is now shop manager. “I orchestrate prescriptions, keep the shop tidy, order stock, buy products and generally make sure everything runs smoothly,” she explains. “We really pride ourselves on getting prescriptions out quickly and efficiently. I love being able to say to my customers, just pop out and grab a coffee and by the time you’re back, it’ll be ready for you. If they’re new, they’re always so surprised!”

Successful services

Asides from her day-to-day work, Julie is also heavily involved with the many services on offer in the pharmacy including emergency hormone contraception (EHC), weight management and travel clinics. “Compared to when I first started, the pharmacy offers lots of services,” she says. “At the moment, we’ve got the flu jab coming up and the Covid jab for over 65s because of the new variant. It was in October, but they’re bringing it forward. I pre-book all my lovely customers so that all my regulars get it before we run out.” 

Julie also makes sure she is available to chat with customers about any sensitive topics. “Most of the time we have a male pharmacist so when female customers come in wanting to speak about a specific problem – be that HRT, contraception or even thrush – they tend to ask for me and I’ll feed anything necessary back to the pharmacist,” she explains. “It makes them feel more comfortable, which is the aim so I’m happy to help!”

Training is also a key part of life in Rose Chemist and, as healthy living champion, Julie ensures that the team throw themselves into whatever comes their way. “We’ve just done an Alzheimer’s training course, and we’ve done a cancer care course and an aftercare course. We did an awareness course on child abuse and on adult abuse, which is when we have to then signpost them to different departments. That’s the saddest part about this job. The rest is quite jolly and upbeat, we do have quite a giggle in here.”

“It makes them feel more comfortable, which is the aim so I’m happy to help!”

Just keep smiling

Despite building close relationships with the majority of customers, Julie admits that occasionally, as in most pharmacies across the country, there is the odd patient who can be quite impatient. “I just carry on smiling and it wins people over because in the end, they have to smile back at me!” she laughs. “To be honest I can talk to anyone about anything, and I just love keeping up to date with my customers. We get all sorts in here, from poorer members of the community, to school children, to actresses! For some of these people, especially the elderly, I’m often the only conversation they’ll have so I always make the time to hear about their days – I think that’s really important. I just really try to make everyone feel better, whether or not that’s physically or mentally.”

Mental health goals

Looking to the future, Julie would love to focus on further supporting the mental health of her community. “After the initial madness of flu jab season passes, I want to do some more mental health training, especially in anxiety for young children,” she says. “Since the pandemic, we’ve had so many children who are now on anxiety medication, some are as young as seven! I couldn’t believe it when this first happened, I had to go into the pharmacist to question the prescription. 

“The pandemic and the way it affected schools has really impacted their social skills and I’d really like to see if there’s any way I can help with this going forward.”

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