'The State cannot rely on traditional models of care' - pharmacists calling for more money to provide extra services
Pharmacists are calling on the Government to provide additional funding in the forthcoming budget to allow them provide extra services for patients.
The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) insists that allowing their members provide additional medical services will alleviate the increasing pressure on GP surgeries.
The union says it should be able to prescribe contraception for women, help manage chronic diseases and provide services for minor ailments.
They say the expansion of services would require more funding but it would help reduce the growing queues for GP services.
The union says research shows 18pc of GP’s work load is spent treating minor ailments which pharmacists could provide through the introduction of a minor ailment scheme.
This would reduce GP consultations by around 950,000 visits a year, according to the union.
A pilot of a minor ailment scheme was launched in 2016 but the HSE has yet to decide on whether it will roll out the project nationally.
IPU spokesperson and pharmacist Kathy Maher said there is a commitment in the Programme for Government and the Slaintecare document to expand pharmacy services which should now be acted on.
Ms Maher said her members were demanding to see “flesh on the bone” of the commitments the Government has made on pharmacy services in October’s budget.
“Pharmacies open long hours and over weekends and can be attended without appointment – that is why, for a range of services, community pharmacies are the logical providers of care,” she said.
“Pharmacists can bring added value to both the patient and the HSE. As demand for healthcare continues to increase, the State cannot rely on traditional models of care and it must be recognised that pharmacists are part of the solution,” she added.
Ms Maher said Ireland is “lagging behind international best practice” and noted that pharmacists in the UK, Canada and New Zealand are already providing the services they are proposing.