Pharmacies suggested as healthcare option for youth

Pharmacies may be able to fill some of the healthcare gaps for rangatahi

With waiting times and costs to see a GP increasing, specialist GP Cathy Stephenson suggests pharmacies might be able to fill some of the healthcare gaps for rangatahi.

Waiting times, along with the cost of transport and consultation fees are creating often insurmountable barriers for youth, Cathy told NZ Doctor magazine.
“We know from Youth19 Rangatahi Smart Survey data that one in five young people surveyed were unable to access a health professional when they needed to in the preceding year,” Cathy says.

For certain conditions and consultations, youth-friendly pharmacies could offer a solution to these barriers, she says. Relationships between GPs, pharmacies and young people may help address unmet health needs and improve healthcare access.

A study by Emma Horsfield and colleagues at the University of Auckland found that pharmacies would be best utilised for health issues like minor illnesses or injuries, management of long term conditions like asthma or eczema, adherence education for people with long term conditions, smoking cessation, vaccinations and sexual health and contraception, NZ Doctor reports.

“I’m not proposing that we create a pathway that means we don’t see young people in our clinics – for me, that would be a huge loss – and clearly there are limitations to what can be done effectively in a pharmacy consulting room,” Cathy says.

“However, I do think that given the pressures we are under in primary care, the length of time our patients are waiting for appointments, and the associated costs and other barriers that exist for young people, it is worth adding this to the kete of services we routinely talk to our patients about, particularly for the health issues listed above.”

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