Neighbourhood Pharmacies Calls on All Jurisdictions to Enable Access to Care through Pharmacy-Led Clinics

June 26, 2024 (Halifax) – During today’s plenary fire-side conversation at the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada’s annual #EXPO2024, leaders from across the pharmacy sector and supply chain heard firsthand about the groundbreaking success of pharmacy-led primary care clinics in Nova Scotia.

The Honorable Tim Houston, Premier of Nova Scotia and Allison Bodnar, CEO of the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia (PANS) shared the extraordinary impacts of pharmacy-led clinics in easing the burden on emergency rooms and providing accessible care to all Nova Scotians.

“Pharmacy-led clinics are a critical part of fixing healthcare and one of the first things our government focused on,” said Premier Tim Houston. “By expanding their scope of care, pharmacists in Nova Scotia can now diagnose, treat and prescribe for a wide range of common illnesses, like strep throat, that would have otherwise required a doctor’s office or emergency department.”

Pharmacies in this program provide dedicated clinic hours during which pharmacists offer appointment-based patient care services including assessment and prescribing for many common illnesses, chronic diseases as well as vaccination services. Clinics frequently provide same-day or after-hours services, offering patients greater flexibility and easier access to care.  

Patient feedback truly does speak volumes about the program as 75-year-old Don Gorby can attest, “I have complex health issues and the care I have received is comprehensive. They monitor my clinical signs and make changes to my medication as needed. It is great to have consistent follow-up care again, and I am grateful this clinic is available to me.”  

Marie-Claude Vézina, Chair of the Board at Neighbourhood Pharmacies Association of Canada, emphasizes, “The status quo for primary care in Canada is no longer sustainable. Provincial governments must embrace innovation and invest in solutions-oriented approaches that leverage pharmacies to alleviate primary care challenges in their regions.”

Nova Scotia’s pharmacy-led primary care clinics have thrived due to enabling critical drivers such as addressing patient needs, allowing full scope of practice, securing public funding, and fostering government partnerships. While similar models exist or are developing in other parts of Canada, such as Alberta and Quebec, Nova Scotia’s unique approach stands out. Their dedicated funding model for pharmacy services, coupled with a concurrent and robust evaluation framework, has been an important differentiator for success.

The partnership between the Nova Scotia government and pharmacy in introducing and implementing pharmacy-led clinics offers a proven model for other jurisdictions to adopt. The outcomes of the pilot project emphasize the transformative impact of empowering pharmacies as health hubs. Their success also demonstrates the value of governments and health partners, including pharmacy professionals, working together to develop new and innovative solutions to respond to patient needs and solve complex healthcare challenges.

Neighbourhood Pharmacies calls on all jurisdictions to learn from Nova Scotia's success in optimizing the scope, skills, and accessibility that community pharmacies and their teams offer to address primary care challenges. By fully embracing the role of community pharmacies, providing necessary resources, and maintaining consistent government support, Canada can take critical steps needed to build a sustainable and patient-directed healthcare system.

About Pharmacy EXPO

The pharmacy sector is gathering in Halifax this week for Pharmacy EXPO 2024, presented by the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada. This annual conference is the only event dedicated exclusively to the Canadian pharmacy industry. #EXPO2024 will feature captivating content, fascinating speakers, opportunities to showcase services and products, and numerous chances to network with key retailers and suppliers in the pharmacy sector.

About the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada

Neighbourhood Pharmacies represents Canada's leading pharmacy organizations, including chain, banner, long-term care, specialty pharmacies, grocery chains, and mass merchandisers with pharmacies. We advocate for pharmacies' role in caring for Canadians, both behind and in front of the counter. We aim to advance sustainable healthcare for all stakeholders by leveraging over 12,000 pharmacies conveniently located in virtually every community throughout the country. Pharmacies are integral points of patient care.

For further information: Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada

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