Pharmacists call for Immediate Introduction of Pharmacy-Based Minor Ailment Scheme
Pharmacists call for Immediate Introduction of Pharmacy-Based Minor Ailment Scheme in Response to Worsening Healthcare Crisis
- Pharmacists should be allowed to treat common illnesses without the need for a patient to attend a GP surgery.
7 January 2018: In response to the worsening healthcare crisis, the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has called on the Government to immediately implement a pharmacy-based Minor Ailment Scheme, which will allow Medical Card patients to access treatments for common illnesses directly from their pharmacist without having to attend their GP to obtain a prescription. This would alleviate pressure on overworked GPs, who could then see more seriously ill patients who may otherwise find themselves in hospital emergency departments.
According to IPU Secretary General Darragh O’ Loughlin, “Community Pharmacists can play a greater role in patient care, particularly at times such as now when the rest of the healthcare system is under extreme pressure. A Minor Ailment Scheme could divert patients away from busy GP surgeries when their ailment is one that can be treated by a pharmacist, allowing GPs more time for treating patients with more complex illnesses.”
Similar schemes already operate very successfully in other jurisdictions including the UK. The IPU, together with the HSE, successfully piloted the service here in Ireland in 2016 but for some unknown reason, it has not been implemented yet, even though 4 out of 5 members of the public have said they would welcome such an initiative.
“It is ironic that the HSE is now actively encouraging patients to visit their local pharmacy and avoid overcrowded GP surgeries while, at the same time, little effort has been made to introduce an initiative that the public overwhelmingly wants and which would offer immediate benefits to the public and to the whole healthcare system. While more patients are getting sicker and GP surgeries and emergency departments are getting busier, it makes no sense to delay any further.”
In conclusion, Mr O’ Loughlin called for common sense and decisiveness to prevail in the Department of Health and the HSE, and for the immediate implementation of a pharmacy-based Minor Ailment Scheme facilitating community pharmacists to play a supportive role in alleviating our healthcare crisis.
Jim Curran, IPU Director of Communications & Strategy, 086 264 0469