Archive 2016

96% satisfaction with pharmacy services, research finds

May 24, 2016

96% of adults say that they are either very or quite satisfied with the service they receive from their pharmacy, according to figures published today by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI), the pharmacy regulator.

Pharmacists are very much seen as experts in medicines with 47% of people indicating they would first go to a pharmacist for advice on medicines (while 32% consult a doctor, 13% check online, 5% ask a friend/family member, 3% check the leaflet that comes with a medicine). Trust in and accessibility of the pharmacist continue to be substantial influencing factors for the wider availability of services, with 9 out of 10 people believing that pharmacies are a good place to make more health services available.

There is substantial appetite for health promotion advice from pharmacists (89%), cholesterol checks (88%), blood pressure checks (88%), appointments with pharmacists to speak in private about a patient’s medicines (87%) and diabetes checks (87%).

Acting Registrar Ms. Damhnait Gaughan said: “Not only does this research show high levels of patient satisfaction with services now routinely offered by pharmacists, it also indicates a desire for more services to be made available in pharmacies in future, with the PSI overseeing required training and guidance in place that will support pharmacists’ safe and effective delivery of any such additional services.”

In addition, 82% of people indicated they would like to see more medicines available from pharmacies without a prescription, and of them 47% identified blood pressure medication and 30% the oral contraceptive pill as medicines they would like to receive, directly from a pharmacist, without a prescription.

“The findings from the survey will also inform the outcomes of the PSI’s Future Pharmacy Practice Project, which is currently exploring how pharmacists can most valuably contribute to the health and wellbeing of patients in an Irish healthcare system that faces acute systematic and demographic pressures. Led by the PSI, the project has had significant input from patients, pharmacists, educators and policy-makers in the Department of Health and the HSE and is exploring new and innovative ways of developing pharmacy services to enhance patient benefit nationally by making best use of pharmacists’ knowledge and education. The final Report will be published shortly,” Gaughan explained.

Among its functions the PSI is responsible for handling complaints made by anyone who is concerned about the behaviour, conduct or practice of a pharmacist. Few have ever had a poor experience, according to these results, with 96% saying they have never experienced service or treatment that would give rise to unhappiness or complaint. Of those who did, half addressed the issue at the pharmacy while the remainder did nothing about it. One survey participant stated that they had previously made an official complaint to the PSI.

“This feedback is positive and we are pleased that people are addressing their concerns directly with pharmacists. This should be the first port of call. We have noticed a decrease in the number of complaints received by the PSI over the past two years – down from 51 complaints in 2014 to 27 complaints in 2015. It is our role to ensure that members of the public know the appropriate channels to raise complaints about pharmacists and pharmacies, where necessary,” said Gaughan.

With greater access to information online and ongoing changes in relation to e-health, people were also asked if they would consider buying prescription medicines online from a regulated internet pharmacy, a practice currently prohibited in Ireland. The results were divided, with younger and Dublin-based respondents favouring the option to order online (39%) and older respondents generally not likely to consider (51%) ordering a prescription medicine over the internet.

Interestingly, the research reflects a clear difference in attitude and engagement from people in Dublin in comparison with the rest of the country. Frequency of attending a pharmacy and levels of satisfaction are notably lower among the Dublin population. Most likely this is influenced by a number of factors.

Speaking on the overall findings, PSI Acting Registrar Damhnait Gaughan said: “With somewhere in the region of two million people visiting a pharmacy every month and in the context of changing healthcare needs, technology development and evolving models of pharmacy service the public’s opinion on all these issues will be extremely useful now in informing the work we do on their behalf.”

Additional Information

  • Read more information on the public survey.
  • View an infographic on public attitudes to pharmacy services.
  • The research quoted was undertaken during March 2016 as part of a Behaviour & Attitudes Barometer Survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults over the age of 16.
  • In relation to the existing pharmacy service, pharmacists provision of the flu vaccination, a separate patient study was conducted by the regulator in the winter of 2015, again showing high levels of patient satisfaction, returning patients to pharmacy for vaccination and a positive attitude to there being more vaccinations and other services available from pharmacists. Trained pharmacists have been involved in the HSE inoculation programme for five years.

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