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Pharmacists Can Fill Gaps To Help Reach Health Targets

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Community pharmacies are well-placed to step into the gaps where primary health organisations (PHOs) are struggling to meet community health needs, says the Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand (the Guild).

League tables released by the Ministry of Health under the Official Information Act rank general practices for meeting key health indicators - such as immunisation, assessing heart disease and following up with diabetes patients. At the bottom of the table were PHOs in Counties-Manukau, Northland, Bay of Plenty and Waikato.

"With over 900 community pharmacies throughout New Zealand, community pharmacists are the health professionals that patients see most often," says Annabel Young, CE of the Guild. "They are well-placed to step into the gaps where PHOs are struggling to meet key health indicators. Pharmacists are medicines experts who are trained to assess a patient's condition and recommend safe and effective treatments - without an appointment."

As the medicines experts, community pharmacists already provide assistance with key health indicators. "For instance, community pharmacists provide their diabetes patients with guidance and education on taking their medication safely and effectively," says Ms Young. "They are well placed to undertake child health checks for children about to enter school. And pharmacists are often the first to know if a patient is not taking their medication correctly, whether they are managing their illness and whether the patient needs to be referred for more specialised advice. Providing these services means that community pharmacists ease the pressure on an already over-burdened primary health care system." If incentive payments previously targeted for PHOs are to be re-directed to other frontline health services, the Health Minister should consider the effective and efficient option of using frontline community pharmacies. "New Zealand lags well behind international norms when it comes to utilising front line pharmacy skills."

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