The impact of the [minor ailments] service on emergency departments and other health services will be assessed through an evaluation once the initiative has ended on 30 September
More than 60,000 minor ailments consults have been carried out by community pharmacies since the programme started less than two months ago.
The scheme funds pharmacies in Te Tai Tokerau (Northland), Auckland, Tauranga, Palmerston North, Wellington and Hutt Valley, Christchurch, and Invercargill to offer free consultations and OTC treatment for approved conditions, including scabies, headlice, acute diarrhoea and minor skin infections. It is a targeted scheme, and only Māori and Pasifika patients, under-14s and their whānau, and Community Service Card holders are eligible.
Introduced as an initiative to reduce pressure on other health services this winter, the scheme started on 12 June and will run until 30 September.
Te Whatu Ora northern regional wayfinder Danny Wu confirms that since the programme started the 717 community pharmacies participating in it have delivered over 60,000 consultations.
It is not yet known if the scheme is achieving its goal of reducing pressure on other health services this winter, although the strain on the system appears to have reached record levels. Te Whatu Ora chief executive Fepulea’i Margie Apa told a 28 July Te Whatu Ora board meeting that ED patient numbers are up 10 per cent on the same time last year.
“The impact of the [minor ailments] service on emergency departments and other health services will be assessed through an evaluation once the initiative has ended on 30 September,” Mr Wu says in an emailed statement.