Raj Badiani gives us an insight into the origins of Istead Rise Pharmacy and more..
Good Friday 1978 was when we came over to view the chemist business at Istead Rise. Having seen the small flat above the shop, my wife Bindu decided that this was it for our future. We had not even seen the premises nor discussed the business, lease, or the price, and she had made the decision! I, of course, dared not argue. But we have never looked back since.
Having got married a couple of years before that and expecting our first child in October that year, it was a bold step, especially as I had no experience running an independent chemist and the workings of the NHS contract. I had trained with a major pharmaceutical company where the head office did all the dealings with the NHS. Exposure to any and every aspect of the NHS contract, Employment Law, the risks in signing a lease without really understanding the implications, and negotiating with lenders, especially as I had little in my name with any bank.
We used to make creams, lotions, mixtures, drops, and even suppositories. We had a fair range of equipment to make these and certified by the weights and measures. All the reference books were in the pharmacy to look up the formulae, and names of final preparations and ingredients were always in Latin. Prescriptions were always handwritten, which often meant that often the prescriber had to be contacted if the writing was illegible and instructions ambiguous. The labels on the containers of dispensed items were also handwritten, and the containers were almost always recycled as most of them were glass and later plastic.
In those days, I had often been called out to dispense an urgent prescription in the middle of the night. The patient or representative contacted the police, and they would come out to the pharmacy and meet up with me to deliver the medicine to the patient.
Time went by, and I had more confidence in running a pharmacy, with help from my wife and three part-time staff, who all gave total commitment to the business and left only at retirement. They were fond of my children (a second one had arrived in 1981), and we have been in touch with them over the years.
The pharmacy world has changed a great deal since those days. The NHS prescription charge was 20p per item. Now this charge is almost 50 times as much! But then today’s medicines are worth much more than that.
And with the digital world that we now live in, it is likely to change much more. The range of medicines available is much more vast today, and standards of manufacture, quality control, and reporting of adverse effects are much higher than in those days. The work of a community pharmacist is much more clinical than ever and is always in support of the GPs. More and more services are likely to be provided by local community pharmacies, but it will depend on the funding available within the NHS structure. Running an independent pharmacy business is much more challenging today and needs all the support from staff who are, in my case, very loyal, and for that, I am genuinely grateful to them. During the last 15 months, their dedication and commitment to the community of Istead Rise has been admirable and appreciated.
I am grateful to the residents, past and present, of Istead Rise and the surrounding areas for the support, co-operation, and affection they have shown to my family and me during our 43 years here. My family plan to continue trading as a truly independent family business.
Istead Rise Pharmacy, 54 Istead Rise, Gravesend, Kent DA13 9JF
Telephone 01474 833383
Monday – 9am–1pm, 2–6pm
Tuesday – 9am–1pm, 2–6pm
Wednesday – 9am–1pm, 2–6pm
Thursday – 9am–1pm, 2–6pm
Friday – 9am–1pm, 2–6pm
Saturday – 9am–1pm, 2–4pm
Sunday – Closed