TORONTO, Feb. 1, 2019 /CNW/ - The Ontario Pharmacists Association applauds Premier Ford's Council on Improving Healthcare and Ending Hallway Medicine and Dr. Rueben Devlin on the delivery of its first report that begins the process of improving Ontario's healthcare system. Appropriately, the report emphasizes the importance of putting patients first and integrating the right mix of healthcare professionals to ensure optimal health for the people of Ontario. This province's 16,000+ pharmacists are key contributors to improving that care.
In Ontario's more than 4,300 community pharmacies – most open late and some 24/7 – pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare providers and are often the first point of contact for patients.
The Council stated that Ontarians are having difficulty knowing where to go when they have a healthcare issue, waiting a long time for appointments, or finding inconvenient service hours.
"Ontario's pharmacists are highly-trained healthcare professionals who are ready and willing to help. By enabling them to practise to their full scope, pharmacists can help in relieving some of the congestion in hospital emergency departments and alleviating wait times in crowded physician and nurse-practitioner offices and walk-in clinics. Pharmacist consultations are typically held without the need for an appointment, and by virtue of pharmacies' extended hours of operation, Ontarians can receive their pharmacist's assistance for their healthcare needs on their schedules when and where they need it – close to home," says Allan Malek, Executive Vice President and Chief Pharmacy Officer for the Ontario Pharmacists Association.
A report from a recent study conducted by the University of Waterloo concluded that under an expanded scope, pharmacists could potentially have managed nearly 1.5 million cases presenting to emergency departments (EDs) over the 2010-17 study period. The study authors suggest that the introduction of ED-based or community pharmacists practising under an expanded scope may have a positive impact on overcrowding in EDs. This study is consistent with the Council's finding that, "people are ending up in emergency departments, waiting hours for care that sometimes could have been more appropriately provided in a different care setting, or avoided entirely by proactive and preventative measures."
Ontario is one of the only provinces where pharmacists are not able to assess and treat patients for common ailments. Ontario pharmacists are keen to work with the provincial government to amend current legislation that would allow them to support the Council's goal of improving healthcare in Ontario.
The report also states that Ontarians cannot always see their traditional primary care provider when needed and that a lack of early intervention and prevention is contributing to more patients becoming ill. It goes on to state that these and other challenges are connected to the problem of hallway healthcare.
"Pharmacists have proven that they can help in a preventative fashion, as evidenced by their strong success in flu immunizations. Over the 2017-18 flu season, pharmacists administered more than 1.2 million flu shots," says Malek. "Ontarians now flock to pharmacies for this critically important service, and it speaks to timely accessibility that needs to be leveraged. Whether it's administering other publicly funded vaccines or assessing and treating patients suffering from common ailments, Ontario's pharmacists are ready. OPA welcomes the Council's report – we're looking forward to showing how pharmacy is an integral part of the healthcare system and how we are a part of the solution."
About the Ontario Pharmacists Association
The Ontario Pharmacists Association is committed to evolving the pharmacy profession and advocating for excellence in practice and patient care. With more than 10,000 members, OPA is Canada's largest advocacy organization, and professional development and drug information provider for pharmacy professionals across Ontario. By leveraging the unique expertise of pharmacy professionals, enabling them to practise to their fullest potential, and making them more accessible to patients, OPA is working to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the healthcare system. The pharmacy sector plays a strong role in Ontario with an economic impact of more than $6.3 billion across 4,300 pharmacies, employing 60,000 Ontarians.
SOURCE Ontario Pharmacists Association
For further information: Corinne Radake, Director, Communications, 416-441-0788 x 4236, [email protected]