Bitter pill for pharmacists: criticism of Woolworths’ plan to trial health checks

PRESSURE’S ON: Pharmacist Tim Gray says the personalised monitoring of customers such as Bill Marriott cannot be replicated if health checks in supermarkets such as Woolworths are introduced in Australia. Photo:JUDE KEOGH 0702woolies1

PRESSURE’S ON: Pharmacist Tim Gray says the personalised monitoring of customers such as Bill Marriott cannot be replicated if health checks in supermarkets such as Woolworths are introduced in Australia. Photo:JUDE KEOGH 0702woolies1

INTRODUCING in-store blood pressure and cholesterol checks at supermarkets is not in the best interests of the Australian public according to Orange pharmacist Kate Gray.

Woolworths has confirmed it is trialling a program to incorporate the health checks as part of the supermarket’s services in-store in nine supermarkets in Sydney and Brisbane .

“At this stage we have no plans to introduce it in Orange,” a Woolworths media spokesman said.

However Mrs Gray said she fears any trial which could potentially lead to the full introduction of health checks is a cause for concern.

“I find it extraordinary that Woolworths are trialling something like this saying it is in the best interests of the customers’ health while at the same time they are selling cigarettes and liquor - it doesn’t make any sense,” she said.

“I find it an incredible conflict of interest,” Mrs Gray said.

Woolworths management has scotched reports in the media it will look to use undergraduate or qualified pharmacists to carry out the health checks saying they are using nurses in their trial.

“The media has reported on a job ad for health professionals to work in supermarkets but that advertisement was not placed by us and did not relate to Woolworths’,” a spokesman for the supermarket said.

Mrs Gray’s son Tim has followed in his mother’s footsteps and become a pharmacist. They’re both passionate about preserving the type of health checks and records that can only be maintained by pharmacists.

“For example, if we are carrying out a blood pressure check, and monitoring our clients, we keep records and have developed close relationships with general practitioners which you wouldn’t get in a supermarket environment,” Mr Gray said.

District resident Bill Marriott told the Central Western Daily he went into the Gray’s Peter Smith Chemmart yesterday specifically for a blood pressure check.

“They know me here and with Tim it’s much more personalised,” Mr Marriott said.

Mrs Gray says she finds the move interesting considering the duopoly of Coles and Woolworths which already exists in the market place in Australia.

“They are already taking 80 per cent,” she said. 

“Working with customers to manage their health issues is all about building relationships and I don’t believe that can happen where people are tested in a supermarket environment.”

janice.harris@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop