Pharmacists today demanded medical card holders be allowed to buy over-the-counter medicines straight from the chemist rather than having to see a doctor first.
At present people getting free healthcare must have a prescription to obtain common treatments and the Irish Pharmaceutical Union warned it is putting undue pressure on GPs.
Michael Guckian, IPU president, said the system was causing needless difficulties.
“The current situation creates unnecessary obstacles for medical card patients who need medicines to treat minor ailments,” he said.
“An elderly person, with a medical card, who needs antacid for the treatment of dyspepsia has to go to see his/her GP to get a prescription for a medicine while a non-medical card patient is entitled to purchase the medicine from the pharmacist without a GP’s prescription.
“It is a particular problem at the weekends, when patients find it more difficult to see a GP.”
The IPU have made a submission for a Minor Ailments Scheme to the Department of Health to allow pharmacists to dispense over-the-counter medicines to card-holders without a prescription.
The move would enhance the medical card programme, alleviate pressure on GPs’ surgeries and prompt the timely treatment of minor ailments thereby improving the quality of life for patients.