McCartan’s Pharmacy, Newry

Gemma McCartan

The Fiveways in Newry has made a name for itself as a leading convenience supermarket and now the complex offers a number of services in retail units on the site.

The latest to open its doors is McCartan’s Pharmacy. The pharmacy opened in May and is already enjoying a good level of business thanks to demand for services in the local community.

Proprietor Gemma McCartan (pictured top) is from the area and after graduating at Queens in Belfast and working in Markethill and over the border in Dundalk decided to open her own store – earmarking the Fiveways as the perfect location.

“I’ve seen the massive growth over the past two decades it has been phenomenal,” explained Gemma.

“This end of north Newry has seen so many developments regarding housing and employment.

I saw an opportunity as the area needed a pharmacy. Historically, all the other pharmacies are located in the town centre but there are problems with people getting into town due to the volume of traffic, and lack of parking.”

She continued: “We have free parking and we are really supported by the locals – this is a new community hub. The Fiveways started out as a small store with one petrol pump and no look at it

– it’s all down to local support.”

Like all pharmacies, Gemma is looking for a point of difference. Being next to a convenience supermarket means her retail offering is niche and specialising on certain aspects of health.

“I wanted to stay away from anything that the supermarkets are doing so I have focused on skin care and have niche specialised products such as

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La Roche-Posay. I have minimal amount of regular shampoos but I’m not competing with local retailers,” explained Gemma.

“Vitamins and minerals are a big area to get in to and locally there are so many cyclists and people doing triathlons. Many are supplementing their diets so we have had a really good response towards this area.

As well as the usual NHS services, Gemma and the team also provide, prescription collection and delivery, smoking cessation, treatment of minor ailments, food intolerance testing, blood pressure monitoring, glucose testing and BMI nutritional advice.

Pharmacy is changing and it it’s so much more than just prescriptions. The much debated Pharmacy Contract is still not fully implemented but there has been a slow roll-out of services including the Medicines Use Review (MUR) which Gemma is keen to offer as a service for her customers.

Gemma explained: “The MUR is where we take in a patient, review all their medication, make sure they understand why they are taking it and check if they are administering it correctly. It’s a way of formalising what a pharmacist did anyway in practice but it’s about ensuring we are now reimbursed for this service. It’s very enjoyable as it gets you out of the dispensary and talking to your customers.”

“I want McCartan’s to be a centre to maintain people who are well. We want to see people come to maintain good health rather than us solely being here for people who are sick.”

This approach seems to be working as Gemma is enjoying good business since opening a couple of months ago.

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