Sunday 17 December 2017

Pharmacies should sell a wider range of medicines without prescription - 80pc believe

(Stock image)
(Stock image)

Eilish O’Regan

MORE than eight in 10 people are demanding that pharmacies sell a greater range of medicines without prescription including blood pressure drugs, according to a new report.

The report reveals most customers believe pharmacies should also be allowed to expand the range of health services they provide.

The findings come from the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI), which regulates pharmacies to ensure the safety of the public is protected.

It comes amid ongoing tensions between pharmacists and GPs over the shareout of services.

GPs are angry that pharmacists are “poaching” some of their business such as flu vaccines- while some GPs are now actively looking at providing patients with a “one-stop-shop” by dispensing some medicines themselves.

It revealed:

*96pc  of adults say that they are either very or quite satisfied with the service they receive from their pharmacy.

*47pc of people see pharmacists as experts in medicines and say they are their first port of call for advice on taking drugs.

*32pc consult a doctor,13pc check online ,5pc ask a friend or family member and 3pc refer to the medicine leaflet.

Acting Registrar Damhnait Gaughan commented:” There is substantial appetite for health promotion advice from pharmacists (89pc), cholesterol checks (88pc), blood pressure checks (88pc), appointments with pharmacists to speak in private about a patient’s medicines (87pc) and diabetes checks (87pc).

She added: “Not only does this research show high levels of patient satisfaction with services now routinely offered by pharmacists, it also indicates a desire for more services to be made available in pharmacies in future, with the PSI overseeing required training and guidance in place that will support pharmacists’ safe and effective delivery of any such additional services.”

Some 47pc would like to be able to buy blood pressure drugs at pharmacies without prescription and 30pc said the contraceptive pill should be made available over the counter.

She said the findings from the survey “will also inform the outcomes of the PSI’s Future Pharmacy Practice Project, which is currently exploring how pharmacists can most valuably contribute to the health and wellbeing of patients in an Irish healthcare system that faces acute systematic and demographic pressure.

“Led by the PSI, the project has had significant input from patients, pharmacists, educators and policy-makers in the Department of Health and the HSE and is exploring new and innovative ways of developing pharmacy services to enhance patient benefit nationally by making best use of pharmacists’ knowledge and education. The final Report will be published shortly.”

Among its functions the PSI is responsible for handling complaints made by anyone who is concerned about the behaviour, conduct or practice of a pharmacist. Few have ever had a poor experience, according to these results, with 96% saying they have never experienced service or treatment that would give rise to unhappiness or complaint. Of those who did, half addressed the issue at the pharmacy while the remainder did nothing about it. One survey participant stated that they had previously made an official complaint to the PSI.

She added:“This feedback is positive and we are pleased that people are addressing their concerns directly with pharmacists. This should be the first port of call. We have noticed a decrease in the number of complaints received by the PSI over the past two years – down from 51 complaints in 2014 to 27 complaints in 2015. It is our role to ensure that members of the public know the appropriate channels to raise complaints about pharmacists and pharmacies, where necessary.”

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