Irish people make 2m visits per month to a pharmacy.
Pharmacists are the most frequently accessed professional in the healthcare system.
This is according to research by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI), published to mark World Pharmacy Day.
There are 5,915 registered pharmacists in Ireland and 1,921 registered pharmacies.
The research shows that 85% of older people, when admitted to hospital, are on five or more medicines.
A further 23% of them are on incorrect medicines, or else omitted to say what they were taking.
In terms of all age groups, pharmacists fill out 20m prescriptions annually, according to the PSI research.
78,939 people received our flu vaccination in a community pharmacy in the 2016/2017 season.
The PSI believes that the Irish healthcare system is facing a number of challenges in the coming years, including an ageing population.
The number of people over 65 years is expected to grow by about 3% per year over the next 10 to 15 years, and 40% of the population is forecasted to have had at least one chronic illness by 2020.
Registrar of the PSI, Niall Byrne, said pharmacists are well-placed when it comes to playing a “greater role” in the healthcare system.
“People’s healthcare needs are increasing and becoming more complex. Medicines are the most common intervention, in resolving people’s health issues, so the potential risks to the safe and effective use of medicine are likely to increase,” he said.
“At the same time, national health policies continue to focus on resolving the public’s healthcare needs as close to their homes as possible.
“Pharmacists are uniquely placed to play a greater role that could assist in patient care in a safe and cost-effective manner.”
PSI’s recently published report, the Future Pharmacy Practice in Ireland – Meeting Patient Needs, predicts that pharmacists will work increasingly outside of pharmacies.
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