More than four out of five medical card holders want pharmacists to provide medicines for minor health problems without a prescription, it emerged today.
The Irish Pharmaceutical Union has found there is widespread support for a change to the scheme which currently sees patients having to visit their GP first.
A poll revealed 86% of people were in support of the change, with 59% admitting they often rely on their pharmacist’s advice to solve their healthcare problems.
In addition 90% of those surveyed said they would like to see increased services, such as blood pressure and cholesterol testing, offered by pharmacists.
Three quarters of those surveyed (73%) would value a closer advice-based relationship with the pharmacist.
The IPU, which represents 1,600 pharmacists, recorded that 420,000 people - 34% of all adults – visit a pharmacy at least once a week.
“The survey shows that there is a lot of community support for pharmacists becoming more actively involved in the provision of advice and the direct provision of routine medication without a doctor’s prescription,” said Michael Guckian, President of the IPU.
“The way the medical card system is currently set up means that those taking part in the scheme have to go to their local GP even if their complaint is a minor one.
“As a result we see those suffering from minor ailments, for example cold sores, sitting in GP waiting rooms to be prescribed routine products such as Zovirax.
“A more progressive attitude to community health care would see pharmacists providing these medicines with appropriate advice on their use.”
In total 1,153 adults took part in the survey in August.