During the 26 years in pharmacy, Al Patel founded the 'Ask Your Pharmacist' section of The Daily Mail and made it a 'must read' on the agenda of every serious health addict and fitness fanatic, while also starting the paper's hugely successful ‘Good Health’ Section. Now one of UK's most respected commentators on the healthcare market, he is a consultant to many leading brands and publications. Previous accolades include 'Pharmacy of the Millennium' title in 2000 and as an Independent Prescriber, he started UK's first Asthma and Dermatology clinic. During his free time, he is a film and food critic and writes for various publications and online magazines. Al is now looking at ways technology can assist health and is looking to pioneer a startup Health tech company.
1. Which place, or city or country do you most feel at home in?
I feel mostly at home in London. I was born in Kenya and came to the UK at a very young age and have been educated and spent most of my life in London. I have travelled to a few countries, but none are like London.
2. What are your proudest achievements?
I've had many achievements in the past but the proudest was receiving an award from the Mayor of London for setting up safe havens for City Safe. It was hard work and involved many hours liaising with various community members and getting funding for CCTV and wardens to patrol deprived areas. In fact, City Hall also has a safe haven status!
3. What inspires you?
Many things inspire me. Anytime I see someone overcome adversity, or beat the odds–be it in sport, politics, business, or arts, it inspires me to also try to give my best shot to life. Luckily enough, there are many inspirational people and stories. Earlier in my career I was lucky to have a good mentor who was very inspirational and successful. To this date I still love to read stories about him and it makes me thrive 100%. Inspiration is important, I hope to continue to find it in the stories of others, and perhaps one day my own story can be an inspiration for someone else.
4. What has been biggest obstacle in your career?
One of the biggest challenges during my start in the career was the volume of work and the amount of multitasking that needed to be done. It was a big change from university and school, and the deadlines were also much tighter. I tackled this in a few different ways: I looked for opportunities to start or join groups and met with my peers for advice on where to focus my attention.
5. Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date?
My mentor and very good friend Ben Elliott. He is very encouraging, determined and driven and is incredibly hard-working and has a saying His work mantras are: ‘Done is better than perfect’ and ‘Never waste a second’.
6. What is the best aspect about your current role?
Overall, the best aspect of my current role is the variety of work. I love that every day presents me with different challenges. and the opportunity to be helpful and informative for patients, contributing to their learning and solving their issues.
7. And the worst?
One of the significant obstacles is drug shortages. Post covid these shortages have been caused by various factors, such as manufacturing issues, supply chain disruptions, regulatory challenges, unexpected increases in demand, or discontinuation of certain medications. To navigate these shortages and work closely with healthcare providers and patients to find suitable alternatives, maintain patient safety, and ensure continuity of care takes several hours of the day, where this time could be utilised in better ways.
8. What are your long-term goals?
AI-based technology will have an important role in helping people stay healthy via continuous monitoring and coaching. I have always been interested in IT and tech and with a healthcare background would like to develop a tool to help patients look after themselves and used self- help techniques.
9. If you were Prime Minister, what one aspect would you change?
Addressing climate change and promoting sustainable development is a complex and pressing global challenge. As a Prime Minister, focusing on these aspects would demonstrate a commitment to safeguarding the environment and fostering a sustainable future for current and future generations.
10. If you were marooned on a desert island, which historical figure would you like to spend your time with and why?
"Leonardo da Vinci, the Italian Renaissance polymath, would be an intriguing choice to spend time with on a desert island. Leonardo was a brilliant artist, scientist, inventor, engineer, and philosopher, known for his insatiable curiosity and wide-ranging interests.
Leonardo's diverse knowledge and interests would make for engaging and thought-provoking conversations. From art and anatomy to engineering and astronomy, there would be no shortage of topics to explore!"