Dutch GPs may soon refer you to the drugstore
Soon Dutch GPs (family doctors) may start referring you to the drugstore for minor ailments like colds, insect bites and scrapes. The first trials for a collaboration between drugstores and GPs will be held in Brummen and Tiel and last until the start of next year.
Dutch drugstores to treat minor ailments
This particular collaboration is an initiative of the drugstore sector that is reconciled in the Central Bureau for Drugstore Companies (CBD) and receives support from health insurer Zilveren Kruis and the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (Nivel), amongst others.
According to calculations by Nivel, every year GPs take 12 million appointments for minor ailments. CBD Director Marten Hummel feels that drugstores can play a supporting role, “Via drugstores and self-medication people can remedy minor ailments themselves”.
Drugstores and GPs have agreed to give the same advice for minor ailments, such as headaches, stomach aches and colds. This will be done by means of advisory cards, detailing what action should be taken for which symptoms. The cards also inform the chemist about cases in which they should refer the patient to a GP.
All about trust
Some involved in the trial are sceptical. Dr Marcel Kerkhoven expressed that sending patients to drugstores requires trust and diligence, especially in the chemists working there: “If me and me colleagues have confidence in the drugstores, then it is easier to refer patients with minor ailments to them.”
While not all employees at drugstores in the Netherlands are competent when it comes to medical information, chemists must complete a course and regularly refresh their knowledge. These are the ones you can ask about your ailments.
Despite being seen as retailers, chemists must deliver proper and responsible care, as is their legal duty. “We have a quality norm, just like pharmacists. In the case of doubt or serious symptoms we are not allowed to sell the patient anything, we must refer them to the GP,” says Hummel.