Monmouth, situated two miles from the Wales-England border, is a place that seems frozen in time. The town is home to many historical sites such as, the birthplace of Henry V, one of the last medieval stone gated bridges in the UK and the oldest pharmacy in Wales.
D. R. Rosser Ltd. was originally built in 1837 and has remained a pharmacy ever since. Having passed through just four owners (the most recent, Dan Rosser, bought it 17 years ago), it is now a grade two listed building with its original storefront still intact. Inside the pharmacy is not much different. Despite renovations over the past couple of years, original features such as the dispensary sign and medicine bottles remain.
The team at the heart of this traditional pharmacy is made up of a pharmacist, two dispensers, three counter assistants, two delivery drivers and most unusually a HR manager, Naomi Rettig.
Naomi has worked for D. R. Rosser Ltd. for the past eight years, although most of these were spent in a more traditional dispensary role. “I sort of I fell into pharmacy. I’ve always worked in retail previously and so I started just as a counter assistant and found that it was really interesting,” she explains. “I trained as a dispenser because I just love learning about the medicines and found it so interesting. I was a dispenser for seven years, but then last year I had an accident.
“While out on a walk, I slipped on a potato in a potato field and tore my Achilles tendon which now means I can’t stand for long periods, so that kind of ruled out my dispensing career. My boss didn’t want me to leave the company, so he created this role for me and it all sort of evolved from there!”
Now, Naomi is the HR manager for both of Dan’s pharmacies, one in Monmouth and one in Bristol.
““I guess I’m an international HR manager!"”
“With my HR hat on, I do wages, contracts, interviews and job adverts,” she says. “I do any disciplinary meetings, holiday tracking for the staff, letting them know when they’ve got holidays because I don’t want anyone to miss out, arranging staff covers when they are away, dealing with any staff problems or being an ear to listen to. If they just want to come moan to me, they can, 24/7.
“I also do staff training in both of the shops. With my admin hat on, we charge for deliveries and dosette trays, so I liaise with all the patients to get their payment details and then obviously chat to the patients. I consider that a free therapy service! Some of them just want to chat about their day... I’ve got time to do that because I work from home, if the patients want to chat to me on the phone for 10-15 minutes, they’re more than welcome to.”
The new role is perfect for Naomi, she exclaims: “That potato in that potato field was meant to be. There’s always a reason for things happening.”
The location of her second post, Westbourne Pharmacy in Bristol, presents a challenge for Naomi as it means that she has to work across both the Welsh and English health boards. “I guess I’m an international HR manager!” she laughs.
As both boards provide and run services differently in many aspects, it can be a challenge for Naomi to remember what is applicable in one and not in the other. “The big difference is obviously there’s no prescription charge in Wales and they offer different services,” she explains. “There seems to be more funded services on the English side; they do the hypertension clinic, there’s patient referrals, GP referrals to the pharmacy. We do smoking cessation here in Wales, whereas we don’t do that in England, and we’ve also got Choose Pharmacy and they don’t have that in England.
“You think, okay, maybe that would be good if we had that over here and vice versa,” she adds.
The variety not only keeps Naomi on her toes but is something she really enjoys. “There’s never one day the same and I never know what’s going to crop up.
“The thing I most enjoy is working for an independent because it has got that family community vibe,” she adds. “I wouldn’t have this role in one of the multinationals. I think it’s quite niche, having an independent pharmacy with two stores with a HR admin. We’re special. We always joke we’re a special pharmacy for special people.”