Consumer concern over the swine influenza outbreak has reinforced the status of community pharmacists as being the frontline health-care professionals who consumers turn to for advice.

In a survey conducted by the ACT Branches of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, ACT community pharmacists reported that more than half the pharmacies in the Territory had in the past week received inquires about swine influenza.

The fact that more than 80 per cent of the inquiries were for general advice and information, highlights the accessibility of community pharmacists for consumers seeking information, guidance and advice.

The President of the ACT Branch of the PSA, Professor Gabrielle Cooper, said the survey once again showed the accessibility of community pharmacies was a major factor in pharmacies being a central point for consumers seeking information.

"Consumers who have concerns can walk in off the street without an appointment and be triaged to the most appropriate care provider or be given supportive information. This is the strength of our profession," she said. "The community pharmacy can provide that advice and will always refer the consumer on to a GP if necessary. Our relationship with general practice has always been supportive and collaborative.

"It is a win-win situation. Consumers get the advice and peace of mind they are seeking and GPs have more time to attend to their core business." The ACT President of the Pharmacy Guild, Amanda Galbraith, said a telling result from the survey was that 94 per cent of respondents reported they had been able to provide information which met the consumers' needs. "Not only is the accessibility of community pharmacists a major factor, but the quality of advice is of the highest standard," she said.

"It shows that consumers have confidence in their community pharmacists and feel they can turn to them for quality advice and information - advice and information which are instantly accessible."

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

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