City partners with private pharmacies to reduce waiting times at clinics

Bedfordview clinic manager Ms Thandi Tshabangu in the medicine room checking for any discrepancies on the receiving stock before the medicine is packed to be sorted for patients.

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The City of Ekurhuleni has partnered with commercial pharmacy groups such as Clicks, Pick 'n Pay, Dischem and Medirite with assistance of National Department of Health to serve as chronic medication pick-up points to reduce waiting times at healthcare facilities. The public-private partnership with the 49 contracted pharmacies in Ekurhuleni, complements the already existing 111 pick-up points which service about 44 800 patients.

"This service gives residents the opportunity to choose the most convenient pharmacy for them to collect their medicine from," said the MMC for Community Services Cllr Dora Mlambo. "On average, 60% of patients visiting our clinics are stable patients, only there to collect their chronic medication. Ideally, these patients should not be queuing, hence we have expanded pick-up points to private pharmaceutical companies," Mlambo said. The service is only open to stable patients who have undergone a minimum of six medical reviews and their medical records confirm adherence to the proper dosing schedule.

Once a health practitioner has given the go-ahead for a patient to collect their prescription, a patient will sign a consent form to indicate the pharmacy of their choice where they want to collect their two months' treatment. Once the medication is available at the pick-up point, an sms notification will be sent to the patient to collect their medicine within 14 days from the time the sms would have been sent. Patients are expected to visit the clinic after six months, for re-scripting and medical assessment. However, should any sickness or medical complications arise, the patient is strongly advised to visit their nearest clinic for medical attention. A proof of identification and clinic card will be required when collecting medication at the pharmacy.