'This is why we came into this job - to help', says pharmacist

It’s always a proud moment for a football club when it takes the lead – and AFC Fylde’s Mill Farm ground will certainly be the scene of a notable breakthrough today in the battle to overcome coronavirus.

By Tony Durkin
Monday, 25th January 2021, 7:00 am

The Wesham-based club is the scene a key step in the continuing rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine – a pharmacy-led programme of injections against the virus, the like of which a key figure from the chain of pharmacists has hailed as a vital ingredient in the battle to return society to anything approaching normality.

Amid growing calls, highlighted by a petition championed by The Gazette and its parent group JPI Media, for pharmacists across the country to be allowed to take part in the vaccination rollout, Imaan Healthcare, with more than 40 branches nationwide, has been among the vanguard.

A site at Warrington the St Helens-based Imaan group debuted this week proved an instant success and Imaan’s superintendent pharmacist Saghir Ahmed is delighted to have the opportunity to help with the rollout in Fylde.

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Wesham pharmacist Zahir Patel

“This is why we came into this profession in the first place – to do all we can to help people,” he said.

“If pharmacists weren’t open and available to tend to day-to-day needs and queries from the public, GP practices and health centres would be over-run.

“I see our profession as having a symbiotic relationship with GPs - their speciality is diagnosing and we have the skills to do so much more for the NHS.

“We have long made that point to the Government and it is good for the profession that they are realising that is the case,

Saghir Ahmed, superintendent pharmacist of the Imaan Pharmacy chain

“We are there to help, at the heart of community and we are thrilled to be asked by the NHS to support the mass roll out of the vaccination service. “Our pharmacists and healthcare teams are looking forward to helping all those in the local communities to be vaccinated and protected against Covid-19 so that we can edge closer to those normalities we cherish in our lives.”

The sessions at Bradley’s Bar, within the Mill Farm stadium, will run from 8am to 8pm daily by appointment only to the priority groups as listed by the Government.

The aim is to vaccinate around 400 people a day – a target comfortably reached by Imaan Healthcare at Warrington – and among those administering the vaccine will be Zahir Patel, pharmacist at Imaan Healthcare’s Wesham branch.

He said: “We’re chomping at the bit to get involved in the rollout.”

The Covid vaccination centre at Mill Farm will run daily from 8am to 8pm

AFC Fylde chairman David Haythornthwaite said: “I got a phone call out of the blue from Saghir.

“He explained the difficulty he was having trying to get a vaccination hub established at the local community centre in Wesham and could I help?

“We quickly established what was needed, and we proposed Bradley’s Sports Bar.

“It is a perfect location for the Fylde coast with easy access and lots of parking, so I am absolutely delighted we can help the Government and the local community with this vitally important programme.

“It is amazing to think that we will be vaccinating around 400 people a day from today.

“I believe we are the first football club in the country to cooperate in this fashion and we are all very proud to be part of the programme.”

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