Thursday, 20 September 2012 10:00
- Proposals include increasing amount of medicines available without prescription and greater role for pharmacists
- Real measureable savings can be achieved in healthcare expenses through Self-Care
Increasing the number of medicines available without prescription and encouraging health promotions are among the recommendations made by healthcare professionals who are promoting a greater focus on "Self-Care" in Ireland. Self-Care is a healthcare philosophy which emphasises the role of ordinary people in taking responsibility for their health and well being.
The Self-Care Working Group today published their document, Self-Care First, which sets out a series of proposals for a Self-Care framework which would shape policy in this area.
The group comprises representatives from the Irish Pharmacy Union, The School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, TCD, the Department of General Practice at University College Cork, representatives of the pharmaceutical industry and an observer from the HSE (see list of representatives below). It was established in 2010 by these parties who are seeking to increase policy focus on the benefits for the wider healthcare system of a more structured approach to Self-Care.
Self-Care First recommendations include:
1. Legislators need to place a high value on the role of self-care in the healthcare system to include intensive measurable health promotions through schools and the workforce.
2. The regulatory environment must be balanced, proportionate and focused on meeting the needs and expectations of patients and other stakeholders in the availability, safety and efficacy of over-the-counter medicines.
3. Healthcare professionals should be encouraged to support and facilitate the concept of self-care through a co-ordinated approach which ensures that patients access treatment at the lowest appropriate level rather than, as too often happens, seeking treatment at a higher level than required.
4. The role of the pharmacist should be expanded in the delivery of:
- evidence-based healthcare promotions;
- the enhancement of the advisory role of pharmacists to help patients with medicines management;
- the free treatment of common illnesses to medical card patients through the establishment of a Minor Ailment Scheme;
- the reclassification of Prescription Only medicines to Pharmacy Only to allow pharmacists to fulfil their patient consultancy role to foster increased compliance in patients in the use and management of medicines.
5. Patients should have access to good quality, trustworthy information to empower confidence to embrace self-care and to seek care at the appropriate level, therefore enhancing their independence with the healthcare system.
6. The range of medicines made available to patients should be expanded through switching. This would entail making more over-the-counter medicines available in order to enchance the appropriate use of self-medication, supported by increased level of advice from pharmacists.
Rory O'Donnell, President of the Irish Pharmacy Union, said, "Embracing a philosophy of self-care can lead to real, measurable savings in healthcare expenses. Pharmacists can play a critical, expanded role in this area, utilising our accessibility and professional capabilities to benefit patients in partnership with our healthcare colleagues."
O'Donnell cited conditions like cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes and obesity, which constitute the biggest burden on the heath bill and select services, are often caused by known and avoidable risk factors, such as an unhealthy diet, a lack of physical activity and smoking. "Pharmacists are already counselling patients through health promotions, medicine reviews and chronic disease management but creating a proper framework for promoting self-care could transform our role over the coming years," he said.
David Hall, Chairman of IPHA Consumer Healthcare Medicines Division said, "The merits of encouraging the better adoption of self-care are becoming increasingly obvious as Governments grapple with the complex health requirements of an aging population, as well as contracting budgets. The current Government appears to fully recognise the merits of such a framework and it is hoped that our proposals will inform them in rolling out a co-ordinated programme of self-care.
"The industry is deeply committed to working with healthcare professionals, especially pharmacists, where excellent work is already carried out in developing educational tools and protocols to manage the supply of reclassified medicines. There is further scope for this to be enhanced through the greater use of self-medication."
Editor's Note: A full copy of the Framework document with more comprehensive details of the recommendations can be downloaded by clicking here.
Representatives of Switch-On to Self-Care Working Group:
Dr. Colin Bradley, Member of the Irish College of General Practitioners and Head of the Department of General Practice at University College Cork.
Dr. Martin Henman, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Trinity College Dublin.
Ms Pamela Logan, Director of Pharmacy Services, Irish Pharmacy Union.
Mr. Niall O'Shea, Head of Regulatory & External Affairs, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare.
Dr. David Hall, Head of Sales and Country Lead, Johnson and Johnson (Ireland).
Mr. Sergio Schuler, Country Division Head, BCC Ireland, Bayer.
Ms Michelle Andersen, HSE Pharmacist, Corporate Pharmaceutical Unit, Health Service Executive (Observer status only).