£12m to be invested in overhauling Jersey's pharmacy services

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TWELVE million pounds is to be invested over the next three-to-four years in community pharmacies, the Social Security Minister has announced.

Deputy Elaine Millar said that the money – taken from the Health Insurance Fund – would help support pharmacists to become prescribers, employ or train more technicians to support the work of the registered pharmacist and develop new pharmacy services providing advice about medicines and minor ailments.

She added that the package also included an increase to the fee paid to pharmacies for dispensing medicines.

Pharmacists being trained today will have the skills to prescribe medicines within agreed limits while, from next year, all newly qualified pharmacists will be independent prescribers. Part of the package will support existing pharmacists in Jersey to upgrade their qualifications to this same level.

The government explained that independent pharmacist prescribers were equipped to start treatment as well as to prescribe ongoing treatment as needed but that they would be expected to prescribe within their areas of expertise. They added that, in future, patients could expect to get prescriptions from a pharmacist, perhaps working within a specialist clinic in the hospital or at their GP surgery, or as part of a community-based service for a specific condition, such as asthma or heart disease.

Deputy Millar also said that, in May, the law will change, so that Islanders can receive prescriptions covering longer periods. Currently, most medicines can only be issued for 30 days before a repeat prescription or GP consultation is required. The change to the period of supply would free up GPs’ time and reduce costs and inconvenience for Islanders, the government said.

Deputy Elaine Millar .. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (35467353)

This month, the first part of this package – which will include the supply of blister packs, reminder charts advice and GP referrals designed to help Islanders who have difficulty taking their prescribed medication – will be rolled out.

Deputy Millar said she was delighted to have reached the agreement and to be able to launch the package for pharmacies.

‘Community pharmacy makes an essential contribution to our primary healthcare system and we depend on pharmacists for the service they offer us when dispensing medicines. Pharmacists in Jersey are also able to offer Islanders far more than this essential dispensing service,’ she said.

The minister added that the forthcoming law change would help reduce the time and cost for Islanders to obtain repeat prescriptions, improve appointment times at GP practices and help those whose needs for a consultation were most urgent.

Assistant Social Security Minister Malcolm Ferey said in November that widening the range of services provided by health workers such as pharmacists would help reduce the impact of challenges in recruiting GPs. His comments followed concerns raised by the JEP about high vacancy levels which family doctors said had caused some surgeries to close or had restricted their lists for new patients amid an increase in waiting times.

Sara Kynicos, chair of Jersey Chemist Contractors Committee, said she was pleased that ministers recognised the valuable skills that community pharmacy teams could offer and that the group was collaborating with the government to develop future services to support Islanders to live healthier lives.

‘This enhanced funding package will support pharmacists and their pharmacy teams to utilise their professional skills and knowledge more fully, to provide affordable and easily accessible services across Jersey for the benefit of Islanders and the wider healthcare system,’ she said.

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