Health reforms: Wider role for pharmacists

Media release:  Monday 20 September 2021

To mark World Pharmacists Day on 25 September, the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand is calling for the Government to ensure a wider range of healthcare services are available at your local pharmacy.

According to Professor Rhiannon Braund, president of the Pharmaceutical Society, “enabling innovative pharmacy practice, and effectively utilising pharmacists’ skills, would improve health outcomes in New Zealand.”

“The Society will continue to work closely with the Government’s transition team to ensure this happens as part of the implementation of their reform of the health system,” says Braund.

Making it possible for patients to access healthcare services through pharmacists, as well as GPs, is one way of removing barriers to accessing healthcare, particularly for high-risk populations.

“Pharmacists are the health professionals people see most often. In most communities they are the first place that people go for health advice, particularly regarding common ailments,” says Braund.

Enabling pharmacists to provide a wider range of healthcare services would improve health outcomes for patients in a timely manner before the condition worsens.

There are many healthcare services where pharmacists could be taking a wider role, including increasing vaccination access, women’s health, warfarin monitoring, gout management, and screening services such as throat swabbing for prevention of rheumatic fever.

“Improving access to healthcare services in the community is the first and most important step to preventing patients ending up in hospital later on,” says Braund.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that community pharmacy is an integral part of the healthcare system, that can provide flexible solutions for New Zealand's unprecedented healthcare challenges."

“Pharmacy’s contribution to innovative, responsive, safe and adaptable health service delivery should reassure our health leadership that pharmacy is not only a strategic partner in equitable and accessible healthcare but is a key part of the solution to some of the current health system challenges.”