Peter Bevan-Baker: Calling on the King government to implement a one-year pilot to open the scope of pharmacists on PEI.

We all get sick sooner or later. Currently on PEI, almost 20,000 Islanders have no family doctor to turn to when they get sick and need care. Sadly, when they need help they will end up standing in long lines at a walk-in clinic or waiting for hours in an emergency room.

Prince Edward Island desperately needs more family doctors. It is going to take time to recruit these doctors. Time is a luxury that many Islanders simply do not have.
Just this week a father reached out to me to tell me about his experience trying to get stitches removed from his daughter’s injury. It took several days of lining up at walk-in clinics, and missing work and school to finally have this simple procedure done.

Telling this father, and other Islanders like him, that the government is working towards recruiting more doctors does nothing to help.

Access to primary care is fundamental to our system, and to supporting Islanders’ health. Doctor and nurse shortages are at critical levels. It means many Islanders are without access to continuity of care for their health needs.

There are ways we can help sick Islanders now by relieving some of the pressure on our health care system as we work diligently to recruit new doctors. One way to divert some of the workload out of walk-in clinics is to allow pharmacists to work to their full scope of practice.

Throughout the past 18 months of this pandemic I have been struck by the ability, flexibility and willingness of pharmacists in our communities to step up. In fact, many pharmacists are trained to provide so many more services than our government currently allows.

This is not something new. In other provinces, pharmacists can prescribe medications for simple ailments like ear and eye infections. In some of those provinces they can also prescribe birth control, renew many medications and even order blood work and interpret the results. Working within the pharmacist’s full scope of practice is also something the Pharmacist Association of PEI has been advocating for over 20 years.

Optimising the human resources in our health system means utilizing the full potential of our trained health professionals. I am calling on the King government to implement a one-year pilot to open the scope of pharmacists on PEI. This will allow our province’s healthcare system time to heal while we recruit more professionals. It will also give all Islanders the opportunity to get the right healthcare at the right place at the right time.