Bay of Plenty pharmacies are doing their part to reduce the rates of rheumatic fever in the region, with the introduction of a new pharmacy-based Rapid Response Sore throat management service.
The service is a joint venture between Bay of Plenty Community Pharmacy Group and Bay of Plenty District Health Board.
Pharmacist Cathy Mills says the group is pleased to announce 34 pharmacies across the Bay of Plenty DHB area are now providing free, no-appointment-necessary, sore-throat swabbing and antibiotic treatment for eligible patients aged four-19 years and their families.
“The aim of this service is to provide at risk patients aged four-19 years and their families with sore throats effective, free sore throat management directly from local pharmacies.
“By removing some of the barriers such as cost, the need for a parent or caregiver to make an appointment, transport or distance and the need to take time off school or work we hope to reduce the number of patients going on to develop this debilitating condition.”
Rheumatic Fever is an autoimmune condition caused by repeated untreated group A streptococcal sore throats, says Cathy.
It can cause significant damage to a patient’s heart, leading to lifelong health problems.
“In the Bay of Plenty Rheumatic fever disproportionally affects Maori and Pacific children and children living in social deprivation, poor housing or crowded conditions and children with reduced access to primary healthcare.”
Cathy urges any child with a sore throat should get it checked using the new pharmacy-based service.
“Community Pharmacies are conveniently located and many offer extended hours making it easier for patients to access health services outside of work hours or over the weekends and school holidays.
“Pharmacies will be working closely with Pathlab, school sore throat swabbing services and patients GP’s to ensure all health care providers are updated on patient care provided.”
A list of pharmacies providing Rapid Response Sore Throat management services can be found on Toi Te Ora’s website or by visiting your local pharmacy.
The service adds to a growing list of new services offered by pharmacies in the BOP in conjunction with the BOPDHB such as:
• Free smoking cessation and nicotine replacement for those that meet specified criteria.
• Free consultation and emergency contraception pill if required for females under 25 years.
• Free diabetic sharps containers and disposal for diabetic patients.