Project Team Leader, Cheryl Yearwood, is making it clear that the Barbados Drug Service (BDS) was not encouraging anyone to switch to a public pharmacy, "the choice is yours."

The Pharmacist was at the time responding to queries from some members of the public with respect to the introduction of a dispensing fee in the private participating pharmacies come April 1.????

While speaking at the first BDS public lecture and discussion for the year on the topic The Re-introduction of the Dispensing Fee and the Revised Formulary and How it Affects You, held last night, Tuesday, March 15, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, she noted that the public pharmacies were however, readying themselves for any possible increase in clients.

"One of the things that we are doing currently is we are making infrastructural changes in the public pharmacies to shift around the way we do things so that we can better accommodate you," Ms. Yearwood explained.?? ?????????????? Other measures being put in place to create a "hassle-free experience at the public pharmacies", include recommendations to the Ministry of Civil Service for increased staff and having more drugs available in the public pharmacies.??

She, however, pointed out that it was a fallacy that there was an extended wait in the public pharmacies as compared to their private sector counterparts.??

"We are not aware how many people will shift to the public pharmacies, so we can’t say in any given day necessarily how many people will get in and out in five minutes.?? But there is a misconception that there is a long wait at the public pharmacies… There is not usually a long waiting time.?? We have surveyed that in the past and what we have found is that most persons can receive service and the longest wait is probably 20 minutes at our busiest pharmacy, at the busiest time of the day," she stressed.

One female member of the public who attended the discussion insisted that she enjoyed good service at a particular polyclinic pharmacy.?? "I don’t have any problems at the polyclinic or the public pharmacy… neither doctors, nurses, pharmacists, or patients and I do not hoard drugs," she reported.

Panellist and private pharmacy owner, George Alleyne, however, assured the public that the private pharmacies were willing to assist those who choose to remain their customers.??

The April 1 changes, announced by the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs in the 2010 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals, were designed to address rising expenditure over the years which has steadily increased since the Service’s inception in 1981.??

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