Importance of local pharmacy underscored by pandemic

Survey suggests GP visits fell during pandemic while pharmacy visits rose

Some 85 per cent of people said they found pharmacies accessible compared with 51 per cent for GPs and just 13 per cent for hospitals. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Some 85 per cent of people said they found pharmacies accessible compared with 51 per cent for GPs and just 13 per cent for hospitals. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Community pharmacies have increased in importance as a result of the pandemic, according to a new survey by B&A.

The study, published by the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), found that with overall visits to GPs decreasing during the pandemic pharmacies have grown in importance and that 39 per cent of respondents now see their pharmacist as their most important healthcare professional.

This was up by more than a third on a previous survey.

The majority of people (54 per cent) said they visited the GP less often throughout the pandemic period, with many consulting with their pharmacist instead.

Some 85 per cent of people said they found pharmacies accessible compared with 51 per cent for GPs and just 13 per cent for hospitals.

Greater role

The longer opening hours offered by pharmacies were recognised, with 75 per cent agreeing that pharmacies are available at a time that suits compared with just 31 per cent for GPs.

Pharmacists were also found to play a much greater role in the healthcare of younger adults. Someone under the age of 25 is four times more likely to have been to the pharmacy in the past week than a GP.

IPU president Dermot Twomey said: “The role of the community pharmacy has been expanding and increasing in importance for many years.”

“This accelerated during the pandemic as pharmacies kept their doors open during each lockdown. With people visiting GPs less, or GPs favouring virtual appointments, the accessibility of pharmacies is driving healthcare in our communities,” he said.