Fri | Dec 14, 2018

Good reviews – Waiting time significantly reduced at DrugServ Pharmacies

Published:Saturday | December 8, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Drug Serv Pharmacy, Union Square, St Andrew.

Since the National Health Fund (NHF) started the takeover of public-sector pharmacies in 2017 under the name DrugServ, the agency said it has managed to reduce the average waiting time from about three hours to one hour and 20 minutes.

This has been confirmed by DrugServ customers in the Corporate Area who spoke with The Gleaner, but the issue of unavailability of drugs is a common thread, with some indicating that they sometimes have to visit other DrugServ locations to get the drugs they need.

One customer said, "A no all the while, still. Sometime them have the three weh me husband want. All sometime them no have it all ... so you haffi a go DrugServ inna Cross Road."

NHF CEO Everton Anderson indicated that the agency has been able to increase the service level for prescriptions to an average of 83 per cent of items on each prescription but pointed to several reasons why this number is still not at 100 per cent.

He said that "global shortages of pharmaceuticals; discontinuation of products by manufacturers; and regulatory issues, where a product may be available but not registered in Jamaica with the Ministry of Health" are factors that affect the availability of drugs.

There were some customers who said that they still experience waiting times exceeding three hours. Anderson said this could be due to the types of prescriptions these patients are trying to have filled and the number of items thereon.

"Prescriptions with up to 10 items are regularly seen, with some prescriptions having as many as 15 items. For these patients, wait time will be a little longer as we work to safely dispense drugs to our clients," Anderson said.

Most customers, however, reported encountering no issues when they visit the public-sector pharmacies.

"No, I don't have no issue. If I come here early, I can go back home before 10 o'clock. The service all right. Some people try to cut, but principle is principle," said Angela Patterson, who visits the pharmacy every two months.

Another customer, Merlina Edwards, who was at another location in the Corporate Area, shared similar sentiments.

"You don't have to wait as long as before... . the service is very good," Edwards said.

In February 2017, Cabinet made a decision for the NHF to take over the management of pharmacy services in the public sector. This was completed in April 2018.