Advocating for Rural B.C.

Pharmacists in rural B.C. offer a critical link to primary health-services for many patients - and it’s an area the BCPhA has been advocating strongly for this year. In July 2016, the Association made a submission to the BC Legislature’s Select Standing Committee on Health offering several recommendations to help improve the quality of care for British Columbians. It included four recommendations specific to addressing health-care services in rural and remote areas:

  • Integrate community pharmacists into the provincial rural health-care planning process.
  • Modernize and align the community pharmacy rural incentive program.
  • Deploy technology to address the unique challenges of rural areas
  • Implement prescribing authority for minor ailments in rural communities 

As part of its submission, the BCPhA also asked the government to urge the College of Pharmacists of BC to work with telepharmacy operators and the BCPhA to find solutions to new stringent telepharmacy requirements. Retaining the active role of pharmacists through telepharmacy is helping to assure the delivery of safe, high quality health-care to patients in rural communities.

Like so many rural communities in B.C., Lumby is facing a health-care crisis after going down to only one family physician and limited hours at the public health unit. Pharmacist Judy Phillips says her pharmacy often has to act as a triage.

“Rural pharmacists need to be given the option to prescribe for disease states that the College deems appropriate,” she says. “We have the abilities, we have the knowledge base, but right now our hands are tied."

“I greatly appreciate the Association’s ability to spotlight and advocate for rural pharmacy.”

- Judy Phillips, 
Pharmacy Manager, 
Lumby IDA Pharmacy

Proving the positive impact of pharmacist prescribing in rural areas also has the potential to make the case for expansion to all pharmacists in B.C. 

“Our role goes so far beyond pharmaceuticals. It’s also such an incredible social impact that we’re making on the fiber of our small community.”