Most pharmacists believe that the public are increasingly relying on them for many healthcare services since the start of the recession, a survey has revealed today.
The survey, which was carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on behalf of the Irish Pharmacy Union, found that 91% of community pharmacists stated that levels of general healthcare reliance on their service has grown as a result of the recession.
These services include advice on minor ailments, health promotion (such as advice and support on obesity and smoking cessation) and basic health screenings, e.g. cholesterol.
The IPU has been calling for the expansion of the role of pharmacists for a number of years. In the last 18 months, the role of the pharmacist has grown with pharmacists now providing Emergency Hormonal Contraception without a prescription and also providing the flu vaccine.
The PwC survey also showed that 97% of community pharmacists believe their healthcare potential is being under-exploited.
"Pharmacists in other countries provide many healthcare services to their patients," said IPU president Rory O’Donnell.
"For example, pharmacists in Scotland carry out Medicines Use Reviews for some patients on behalf of the NHS.
"This ensures patients are getting the full benefit from their medicines and are taking only those medicines which are clearly necessary for their treatment. This reduces medicine wastage and therefore the cost to the State."
Mr O’Donnell called on the Department of Health to engage with the IPU to enable Irish patients to benefit from many extended services provided by pharmacists in other countries.