Pharmacy program for minor ailments “could free up a million GP visits each year”


Pharmacists are stepping up their campaign to provide a minor ailment treatment program that they say would eliminate the need to see a general practitioner for 40 ailments, including hay fever, migraine or common skin conditions.

they say they are underutilized despite providing a convenient and accessible service.

Dermot Twomey, president of the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), said that as part of a program to treat minor illnesses, patients with medical cards would have free access to over-the-counter treatments directly from their home. pharmacy.

“Minor ailment treatment programs are operating successfully in many other countries such as the UK, the Netherlands, Canada and Australia. Experience in Scotland shows us that it could eliminate one in 20 A&E visits and one in seven GP visits.

“With general practitioners constantly citing concerns about their capacity, with the stroke of a pen, the government could free up more than a million GP appointments per year. “

He said it was a way to “end the underutilization of Ireland’s 1,900 community pharmacies”.

The IPU’s pre-budget submission said pharmacies have remained open throughout each lockdown, while the majority of people now visit GPs less often. “This means that two in five people now cite the pharmacist as their most important health care provider, a big increase from previous years. “

He said: “Pharmacies are open at convenient times, most services do not require an appointment and half the population lives within 1 km of a pharmacy. But despite years of promises, successive governments have failed to expand the range of services pharmacies can provide.

The brief stated that the Government Agenda is committed to expanding pharmaceutical services.

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