Tufton says public/private sector pharmacy programme successful

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton has described the Public/Private Sector Pharmacy Partner Programme, piloted by the National Health Fund in 2016 in three parishes, as an immense success.

Under the arrangement, private sector pharmacies fill prescriptions for public sector patients, in an attempt to reduce patients' waiting time at pharmacies at public hospitals and clinics.

According to the NHF's Chief Executive Officer Everton Anderson, so far under the programme, 73,000 prescriptions have been filled through 17 participating pharmacies in the parishes of St James, Clarendon and Kingston.

Speaking at the launch of the expansion of the programme at the Hilton's Pharmacy in Montego Bay, St James — one of the 17 participating private pharmacies in the programme — Dr Tufton lauded the pilot programme for reducing waiting time for public patients.

“Over the past year or so we have started the pilot with 17 pharmacies, including Hilton's Pharmacy here, five such in St James, and the results have been overwhelmingly successful. We are very proud of the results of this pilot. And the numbers are there to show. Everton (Anderson) spoke to about two million or so prescriptions written. Within those 17 pharmacies, we have written about 70,000 odd, almost 80,000 prescriptions,” Dr Tufton said.

He added that arrangements are being made to bring approximately 33 more private pharmacies on to the programme.

“Come September or so of this year, we should have just over 50 of these private pharmacies delivering services via the drug windows, which would have been established,” the health minister stated.

Meanwhile, in delivering remarks, clinical director at Cornwall Regional Hospital Dr Delroy Fray described the initiative as “one of the biggest steps, I believe, in pharmacy service in Jamaica”.

“What this does for us is to minimise crowding and to minimise waiting time in hospitals, and that is the new trend we are moving towards,” the clinical director outlined.

He said, too, that the initiative is “an excellent way for accountability and also for auditing purposes”.

“I would like to tell patients, you better be careful when you are given your medication, don't leave it in the bathroom getting soaked and throw it away because the records are going to be there that this amount of drug was given to you, absolutely important. So I want to laud the NHF for that implementation,” Dr Fray said.

He, however, implored the NHF to raise the services a notch higher by introducing e-prescribing “so that we will be at a First-World level”.

Under the Public/Private Sector Pharmacy Partner Programme, patients, who must hold Government of Jamaica Health Cards or the NHF cards, are asked to pay $200 to offset administrative costs at participating pharmacies and have access to 190 pharmaceutical items which have been approved for the programme.

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