Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton is hailing the success of the Public-Private Sector Pharmacy Partner Programme, under which nearly 100,000 prescriptions have already been processed.
The minister said the Government is satisfied that the programme is working and that the public is being served in an efficient manner where “the benefits are tremendous.”
“Gone are the days when people would have to wait for a long time, and the National Health Fund (NHF) must be commended. The real benefits for us are the benefits to the people,” he added.
Dr Tufton was delivering the main address at the launch of the programme at the Camdex Pharmacy in Green Island, Hanover, recently.
Under the programme, piloted by the NHF in 2016, private-sector pharmacies fill prescriptions for public-sector patients, in an attempt to reduce waiting time at facilities at public hospitals and clinics.
“The purpose of this programme when it was conceptualised and developed was very simple. We needed to find a quicker and easier way for patients to get their medication. Patients were waiting too long, we used to hear about two and three-hour waits,” Dr Tufton noted.
He said that the decision was taken to select pharmacies for the programme based on where the needs existed and also in terms of proximity to a hospital.
“We felt that it was an obligation we had in public health … to demonstrate our commitment to providing a service with compassion and empathy in recognition that people who go to the doctor are sick, and need to be provided with service as quickly as possible,” he added.
The minister noted that while patients are asked to pay a small fee to offset processing costs, the feedback from patients is that they do not mind paying for the convenience of faster access to their medication.
Pharmacies in Kingston, Clarendon, St James, and Hanover have so far partnered with the ministry, through the NHF, on the initiative.