Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson has committed himself to address the vexing issue of the chronic shortage of pharmacists in the public-health service.
Dr Ferguson, who was on a tour of the multi-disciplinary Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay last Friday, indicated that the ministry would soon be revamping and introducing new modalities to improve pharmacy services offered at hospitals islandwide.
"Very soon we will be rolling out a new direction as it relates to the pharmacy services in the hospital settings because we have to find a way, innovative enough, that will increase the number of pharmacists in the public sector," Dr Ferguson said.
Dr Ferguson said the ministry is cognisant that the compensation package has been a turn-off for potential candidates so therefore a central plank of the new system would be an improvement in the compensation package being offered to pharmacists in the public sector.
"Right now we have about 46 pharmacists in the system when there are 150 posts that are vacant in the public sector but to fill them we need to improve the compensation. So we are working on a particular policy pursuit that will be announced very soon."
Minister Ferguson also bemoaned the protracted delays at the hospital pharmacies when people go to collect their medication. He said after having waited so long to be seen by the doctor it was "punishment" to have to wait inordinately to receive the medication that will ultimately serve to make them well.