Streatham, South West London, has undergone a good deal of change in the last couple of decades but through it all, Copes Pharmacy has always been there, as a cornerstone of the local community.
“This was where all the innovation would happen; this would be where we’d test and demonstrate what pharmacy and pharmacists could do,” says Ashok Soni, owner of Copes Pharmacy.
Ashok qualified as a pharmacist in 1984 and soon after bought the pharmacy in Streatham in 1986. He has also acquired two other pharmacies but his day to day work revolves around his flagship store, Copes Pharmacy.
“It’s a cornerstone of the local community. We have other pharmacies around Copes itself which sits in a small parade of shops. Its sits right in a residential area, mixed economy with large houses but also lots of deprivation.”
He adds: “Other sites in the parade have changed, but throughout it the pharmacy has been there.”
His reasons for starting out as a pharmacy owner were very clear in his mind: “I wanted to see whether I was capable of running a business and to see how we could make pharmacy different,” he says.
“When I started there were barely any clinical services delivered by pharmacy at all. None whatsoever really. Copes then became one of the very first pharmacies in the country to deliver emergency contraception via a patient group direction. That was part of what made us different.”
In 1990 Ashok became one of the first pharmacists to work on a sessional basis for his local GP surgery and worked with them on developing formularies of best practice across a number of therapeutic areas.
Ashok, who has served as chair of the NPA and also president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, says he feels reassured that the association is there to help him.
“The NPA was my safety blanket and still is. If there’s anything I ever need the first place I go from a owner and contractor perspective would always be the NPA. That hasn’t changed and won’t change.”
Altogether Ashok has 15 staff who work in his pharmacies. He says they have been “incredible during the pandemic”.
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