Pharmacies under pressure

By: Tania Adams

Every day I feel privileged to serve my community and look after their health needs. After all, as the saying goes, “the pharmacist is the health professional you see most often”.

Whether you have a sore throat, a bite on your arm or even a bladder infection, you come and see your pharmacist for help. I’ll ask you quite a few questions, just to check what’s going on for you. Every day I triage. I help where I can, I advise different treatments, lifestyle changes, little things that you can do to help yourself get better, or even to dial 111 right now – that happens sometimes too! Sometimes I will find a product to help ease the pain, settle the redness or treat your infection. Sometimes you buy something from the pharmacy, sometimes you don’t. But the advice your pharmacist gives is free and I’ll send you on to the doctor if it appears that your condition could be more serious. Because that is what your community pharmacist does. We want to help you.

Twenty five percent of Emergency Department admissions to the hospital are for medicine related events – either taking too much medicine, taking too little medicine, taking the wrong medicine or taking the right medicine at the wrong time. A chat with your community pharmacist is all you need to prevent much of that.

Making sure you know what to do with your medicines and how to get the best from them is all part of my job. I only ask you for the $5 prescription tax that I collect on behalf of the government because they take it from me.

When you buy from the internet or go to a discount pharmacy, I am not sure who you ask – who would tell you that you just need a painkiller or if you need to go straight to hospital to save your arm? Imagine not having a community pharmacy service available. What would you do?

A healthcare system that is subsidised by selling you perfume, nappies and toilet cleaner is not a sustainable healthcare system for you or your family for the future.

A lot of my pharmacist colleagues are worried about community pharmacy right now. With cost pressures mounting and discounting rife, there is certainly cause for us to be nervous. If people continue to shop online and get prescriptions at discount pharmacies, this advice will no longer be available. It is only with the support of customers that community pharmacy services can be here in the future so that when you have a question there will be someone to ask.

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