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The three-month pilot ended in September and a final report is due to be issued to the Department of Health early this year, according to a HSE spokesperson. The report will include the views of pharmacists and GPs in the participating towns, along with feedback from patients who used the service.
The pilot allowed pharmacists to treat five conditions, namely vaginal thrush, threadworms, scabies, dry eye and dry skin. It may be rolled-out nationally.
However, the ICGP has raised concerns about the scheme, describing it as “the first step in a new health policy direction which will further undermine general practice and may be bad for health outcomes”.
The scheme allowed medical card patients to receive treatments from pharmacists for the aforementioned minor ailments under their GMS entitlements, without having to attend at their GP surgery to obtain a prescription.
“Currently, they have to obtain a GMS prescription to avail of treatment for minor ailments under their medical card, even where that medication is an over-the-counter one. The aim of a Minor Ailment Scheme would be to divert patients away from busy GP surgeries, when their ailment is one that can be treated by a pharmacist,” a spokesperson for the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) stated.
The scheme ran in 19 pharmacies in Kells, Co Meath; Roscommon Town; Edenderry, Co Offaly; and Macroom, Co Cork.
A HSE spokesperson told MI that an evaluation “is currently underway examining the structure and delivery of the pilot service”.
A final report will be issued to the Department of Health “in early 2017”.