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HRB starts review on minor ailment scheme

11 Feb 2016


Minister Kathleen Lynch

Talks are under way on a pilot project that would see a minor ailment scheme introduced here, IMT reports.

It is envisaged that this will be confined to about four-to-five conditions, and run over a three-month period in four locations. The details are still being agreed.

The Department of Health (DoH) commissioned the Health Research Board (HRB) to conduct an evidence review of the operation of minor ailment schemes in other countries. Now, the Department has asked the HSE to engage with the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) in running a short pilot of a similar service, the Executive said.

The HRB’s report will assist the Department in its examination of the issue.

In a recent report, the UK Royal College of General Practice and College of Emergency Medicine estimated that one-in-seven GP visits (equating to 51 million visits annually) and one-in-12 attendances at EDs could be dealt with by a pharmacist, the IPU said.

These schemes address minor conditions that people often manage with over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. Some of these medicines are also available on the Reimbursement List, meaning that medical card holders may attend their GP to obtain a prescription rather than buying OTC.

Expanding the role of the community pharmacist to include provision of services such as a Minor Ailment Scheme “is worth exploring as we seek to further expand and develop the primary care sector”, Minister Kathleen Lynch has said. The DoH is examining the issue in regard to contractual and funding implications.

“Pharmacy services are well placed within the community to provide essential health advice and to support effective care at the lowest level of complexity and in a cost-effective manner,” Minister Lynch has said in response to a Parliamentary question by Fine Gael Deputy Sean Kyne. “As we continue to experience increased pressure and demand on the resources within the health system it is necessary to consider new and innovative ways to provide the services we require.

“Expanding the role of the community pharmacist to include provision of services such as a Minor Ailment Scheme is worth exploring as we seek to further expand and develop the primary care sector,” the Minister added.

“It is important that such proposals generate real savings on existing public expenditure since the health service continues to operate within tight budget constraints.”

gary.culliton@imt.ie

Gary Culliton

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times