Sláintecare Strategy missing big piece of the healthcare puzzle – pharmacists
- Irish Pharmacy Union says pharmacists are willing and able to help address health service capacity problems
- Ireland lagging behind UK, Canada & New Zealand in what services pharmacies can offer
- Public want expanded role for pharmacists; Government has failed to act
12 August: The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) says the Government is missing vital opportunities to provide a better healthcare service, by ignoring potential services pharmacies could offer. Pharmacies present an additional 1,800 locations through which services could be offered, and “pharmacists are ready willing and waiting to enhance the levels of care they provide” according to IPU President Daragh Connolly.
Speaking in response to the publication of the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy last week, President of the IPU Daragh Connolly said, “Sláintecare provides many useful proposals, particularly on treating patients locally. However, this Implementation Strategy makes only one passing reference to pharmacies and it does not provide any blueprint for future primary care services in Ireland. This is a missed opportunity.”
”50% of the Irish population live within 1km of their local pharmacy, and community pharmacists are in a unique position to expand their role as healthcare providers for the benefit of both patients and the State. Ireland is currently lagging far behind countries such as Canada and the UK, where community pharmacies are providing an increased range of services. These services include pharmacy-based Minor Ailment Schemes, New Medicine Services, management of chronic diseases, improved access to contraception and a wide range of vaccination services without the need for a doctor’s prescription.
“The experience in these countries has shown that involving pharmacies in this kind of healthcare has delivered significant benefits to both patients and the State, taking pressure off other parts of the healthcare system, including GPs and hospitals, and leading to better health outcomes.” (see Table 1).
According to Mr. Connolly patients are strongly in favour of expanding the role of the pharmacist citing recent research conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes which has shown that 92% would like pharmacists to be able to prescribe some medications for minor ailments. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of respondents (62%) said they “sometimes rely on a pharmacist’s advice rather than visiting the GP”, while 61% said they “think twice before going to the GP now due to the expense.
“With an estimated 1.5 million visits to a pharmacy by the public every week, pharmacists are the most accessed healthcare professional. The time is right to optimise our delivery of primary care by providing appropriate convenient, accessible and cost-effective healthcare through pharmacies in communities throughout the country. Patients cannot afford to wait.”
Siobhán Kane, Press & Communications Manager, Irish Pharmacy Union
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