But Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Gary Bikman isn’t entirely convinced offering more services at pharmacies is as rosy a picture as the province paints.
“One of the issues continues to be that AHS is downloading more responsibilities on to pharmacists, under the guise of, ‘we’re now giving you more business.’ But what they’re asking them to do is spend more time for less money than doctors and the rest of the health establishment is already doing for them. It’s a way for AHS to appear to be spending money, while at the same time appear to be doing something good for the pharmacists. I’m not so sure that either is the case, because the overall cost has to be born by someone.”
Alberta’s 1,049 licensed pharmacies will now be able to offer a broader scope of services, supported by a new four-year agreement signed by the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association, Alberta Blue Cross and the Alberta government to support the expanding role of pharmacists in communities across Alberta.
“Some of the things that they’ve recently been asked to do, that would fall under this same category, is it takes time away from dealing with patients that come in that have prescriptions being filled, and making sure that they’re thoroughly analyzing what other drug complications might occur due to other medicines they might be taking,” said Bikman. “So it takes them away from what they’ve been specifically trained to do, in an attempt to reduce the load on doctors. If they were prepared to pay pharmacists the same amount for providing the same service, that would be a good move for pharmacists.”
The agreement also includes four years of predictable funding for pharmacists, transparency of prescription pricing, changes to dispensing fees and an updated pharmacy services framework that compensates pharmacists for the increased primary health care services they provide to Albertans.
“Pharmacists play an increasingly critical role in Alberta’s health care system and we are happy to see that fact recognized by the Alberta government through this new agreement. It will mean pharmacists can continue to provide high quality care to their patients, and ensure Albertans have more access to primary care by increasing the services pharmacists offer,” said Ali Damani, president of the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association, in a press release.
The agreement, which comes into effect on April 1, also includes a new memorandum of understanding between Alberta Health and the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association to ensure better coordination between pharmacies and government when public programs