Pharmacy roles to be expanded
MidCentral Health community pharmacists have become the first practioneers in New Zealand to become qualified to assess and treat children for dehydration caused by stomach ailments.
Under the two-year pilot scheme, children aged between three months and 16 years can be taken to most pharmacists when suffering dehydration after bouts of gastroenteritis. More than 80 pharmacists are taking part in the programme and have been trained to assess the level of dehydration in children. They will provide education on how to manage the incident if it is only a mild case, while more severe cases will be referred to a medical practitioner or the Palmerston North Hospital emergency department.
Community pharmacist advisor Karen Lombard said this would mean children received treatment quicker.
"[Pharmacists] can usually see patients with minimal delay . . . whereas it may take a while to get to see a doctor," she said.
"It will hopefully reduce the presentations to the ED and if they do need to seek further treatment hopefully they won't be as severe."
With dehydration it was important to start treatment as soon as possible, she said.
The training for pharmacists has been coupled with an education campaign with letters to be sent to the region's schools and early childhood education centres about the importance of hand washing and how to avoid gastro problems.
Funding for the programme was approved by MidCentral Health earlier this year.
Where possible pharmacists will inform the child's GP of the case.