Over 1million GP visits could be avoided in major healthcare overhaul as pharmacists plead with government for urgent action
MORE than a million GP visits could be avoided if the government gives pharmacists the power to diagnose and treat minor ailments, a Dail watchdog will say tomorrow.
The Irish Pharmacy Union will urge the government to change legislation to allow pharmacists to prescribe treatments for non-serious conditions that are clogging GP surgeries and emergency rooms.
The IPU will present an information report to the Oireachtas Health Committee tomorrow claiming hundreds of thousands of people could be treated in pharmacies rather than hospitals or their GPs.
The IPU wants that Government Expand the minor illness program to allow pharmacists to treat more illnesses that do not require extensive or complicated treatments.
The pharmacy group assumes that this could prevent one million people from visiting their family doctor’s office every year.
The IPU will also tell the committee that one in 12 people visiting an emergency department could be treated at their local pharmacy, according to a UK study.
In an opening statement to the Irish Sun, IPU President Dermot Twomey said: “Such a system would support the national health principles of equitable, accessible, close to patient and sustainable care.
“Can you imagine the capacity that could be freed up in our GP environments if a million appointments could be freed up by patients using existing community pharmacist infrastructure for their minor ailments?
“This is a clear example of an opportunity to radically rethink how timely care is delivered within the community and achieve affordable, safe and desired health outcomes.”
The IPU will also ask the government to lift the obligation for women to get a prescription for birth control pills from their family doctor.
The group claims there is no clinical reason for providing oral contraceptives on the back of a prescription.
President Twomey will tell the committee: “It has been widely reported that women, both in Ireland and internationally, prefer to buy their contraceptives from pharmacies.
“There is no clinical reason to only administer oral contraceptives by prescription – with the right protocols, it is a very safe and effective medical intervention.
“Experiences in other countries show that reducing costs and increasing access are very effective in reaching populations that might otherwise not use health services, such as B. new communities, younger cohorts and ethnic minorities.”
‘THE EYE OF THE STORM’
Pharmacist Sheena Mitchell recently urged Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to urgently implement a pharmacy triage system that could reduce wait times.
Studies have shown that almost half of the population lives within 1 km of a pharmacy and 85 percent live within 5 km of a pharmacy.
Local pharmacists supplied 45 percent of all pediatric nasal flu vaccines this year and 28 percent of all adult flu vaccines administered to date, but Sheena says there is capacity for much more.
She said: “We are in the eye of the storm and the Government must stop making empty promises and allow pharmacists to have a real impact in helping Ireland’s health crisis.
“The flow of care to patients is disrupted, lives are lost and GPs and hospital staff are at a breaking point.
“By only addressing the most pressing issues, we let what isn’t urgent now become more urgent later. This is a recipe for disaster, especially when combined with an aging and growing population.
“Ireland needs a small legislative change to the Medicines Act to enable pharmacists to ease the pressure on GPs and ER doctors to create a triage system that sees the right patients in the right place at the right time.
“I urge Leo Varadkar to urgently implement a pharmacy triage system, using elements of both a minor illness program and patient group guidelines where necessary.
“It started as a cost issue, but it costs more money to send her to a GP and it potentially costs lives if that appointment is withdrawn from an urgently ill patient.
“As a newly qualified pharmacist working in Scotland in 2006 I was able to supply antibiotic eye drops for conjunctivitis – 16 years later and Ireland still hasn’t caught up. This is an insult to our profession, detrimental to patient care and demoralizing.”
https://www.thesun.ie/health/10343890/gp-avoided-healthcare-crisis-pharmacists-beg-action/ Over 1million GP visits could be avoided in major healthcare overhaul as pharmacists plead with government for urgent action