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British Columbians back expanded pharmacist services: survey

The survey reveals 90% of British Columbians support expanding the role of pharmacists to ease pressures on the province's healthcare system.
As of June 1, pharmacists in B.C. are authorized to assess and prescribe medications for 21 uncomplicated conditions.

A strong majority of people living in British Columbia support pharmacists offering more services, according to a new survey. 

On commission from the BC Pharmacy Association, the pollsters Stratcom carried out the survey between April 22 and April 25 2024. Their goal: find out if the public supports an expanded role for community pharmacists. 

Of the people surveyed, 90 per cent felt that using pharmacists could help alleviate some of the pressure on the health-care system by directly ordering lab tests and providing point-of-care testing for a number of ailments — from urinary tract infections (UTIs) and contraceptives to cold sores and strep throat. 

Mike Huitema, President of the BC Pharmacy Association says the numbers show that patients are confident in pharmacists' abilities and want them to do more. 

“We have had great support since being able to assess and prescribe for minor ailments like cold sores and UTIs and contraceptives,” he says. 

Of the people surveyed, 73 per cent said they have a high level of confidence in pharmacists being able to order lab tests.

When it comes to pharmacists providing counselling and providing prescriptions for diabetes, 67 per cent had a high level of confidence in pharmacists. Another 79 per cent backed pharmacists' ability to do point-of-care testing and 74 per cent said they could offer presciptions for chronic conditions. 

“Community pharmacists are one of the most accessible healthcare providers, and we’ve been proud to be part of helping British Columbians when they need us – from flu and COVID-19 vaccinations to minor ailments and contraception,” says Huitema. “We are willing to do more.”

A total of 85 per cent of people felt a high level of confidence to consult a pharmacist on contraceptives. 

Pharmacists provided more than 340,000 minor ailment and contraception assessments between June 1, 2023 and March 31, 2024. 

Those surveyed said that convenience (63 per cent) and trust (43 per cent) are the top reasons for visiting pharmacists for services about minor ailments. 

The poll surveyed 1,209 B.C. residents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 per cent.