Ontario pharmacists can now assess and treat some patients as doctors do
Ontario's health care system is kind of a mess these days, under extreme pressure from critical staffing shortages resulting in overflowing or closed emergency rooms and brutally long wait times for treatment.
But it will actually get a whole lot easier to seek treatment for minor ailments starting on Jan 1., as pharmacists across the province have been granted new authority to assess and treat over a dozen minor ailments.
This will not only make treatment more accessible for issues like eczema, pink eye, acid reflux, cold sores, skin irritation, menstrual cramps, hemorrhoids, impetigo, insect bites, hives, hay fever, sprains, and UTIs, but it will ease the burden on doctors and nurses in health care facilities by moving treatment to the local pharmacy.
Patients with these ailments no longer have to book an appointment with a physician and can instead call their local pharmacy to make an appointment.
Just like a visit to your doctor, it's all covered by OHIP and can be accessed for free with a valid Ontario health card.
It's a move supported by the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA), which issued a press release on Wednesday calling the change "an important step to improve access to healthcare for Ontarians."
"Empowering pharmacists to use their expertise to assess and treat minor ailments helps patients get the care they need sooner and closer to home – but the benefits go much further," says Justin Bates, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association.
"It reduces demand on hospitals, emergency departments, walk-in clinics, and family physicians. It also frees up time for our healthcare partners, allowing doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers to focus on more complex care cases."
The change will undoubtedly make health care more accessible across the province, but there are already concerns being raised.
Ontario's provincial government has faced accusations of taking steps toward privatized healthcare, and while the new service would indeed be covered by OHIP, it introduces assessment and treatment to a commercial setting, one that will only further line the pockets of the billionaire grocery titans that operate a large share of pharmacies across Ontario.
Join the conversation Load comments