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The new survey of pharmacists finds that just over 24 per cent do not believe GPs can cope with the extra workload that will come about as a result of the introduction of the scheme, while 59 per cent say GPs will only be able to cope with the demands with difficulty.
The revelation comes as it emerges more than 100,000 children across the country have been registered for the scheme.
The pharmacy survey was undertaken by healthcare software provider, Helix Health, ahead of the 2015 Helix Health Pharmacist Awards. Now in its tenth year, the Awards aim to celebrate pharmacy and raise awareness of outstanding work being undertaken by pharmacists working in the professional network of 1,800 pharmacies nationwide.
Commenting on the findings, Dublin pharmacist and Chair of the Helix Health Pharmacist Awards Committee, Mr Fintan Moore said, “GPs are already struggling to cope with their existing workloads and many will find it difficult to cope with the extra demands of the free GP care scheme. Pharmacists could be doing much more, which would both ease the workload on GPs and improve patient care and accessibility to services.”
He continued: “We should be delivering a minor ailments scheme, a new medicines scheme, chronic illness management, further health screening initiatives and expanding the existing vaccination service to include travel vaccinations, as is the case with pharmacists in other countries. We are ready and able to do more. It’s time for the Minister to work with us to expand our professional role for patient care in our communities.”
The survey also revealed that over 90 per cent of pharmacists believe they should have enhanced roles at primary care level. “Pharmacists have demonstrated their abilities to take on enhanced roles, as seen with the roll out of the flu vaccination service, and we would urge the Government to realise pharmacists potential and allow us to further improve the health and wellbeing of the Irish people,” said Mr Moore.
He said that, last year, pharmacists delivered more than 50,000 flu vaccinations and this figure is rising annually.
Meanwhile, nominations for this year’s Helix Health Pharmacist Awards are now being accepted in eight different categories. The closing date for nominations is Friday, July 31.
For further details, visit www.pharmacistawards.com