A six month trial of the supply of free over-the-counter medications to children has been agreed by the Public Health Committee and will commence on 1 Sept 2015.  These medications will be for the relief of minor ailments such as colds, flu, hayfever and for treating things like rashes and pain relief.

Under the trial, children up to the age of sixteen, or eighteen if still attending school, will be able to obtain a maximum of two over-the-counter items per month, direct from the Hospital Pharmacy, without prescription or charge. This will be where the Pharmacist deems the supply appropriate, either as a result of direct contact or where a nurse has triaged the patient.  Medication will only be supplied to a minor with parental supervision and consent, apart from in exceptional circumstances.

A review of this trial will then be conducted to assess its impact and determine whether it should continue.  Criteria for the trial review will include:

  • Cost
  • Usage rates by client, per month (confidential records will be maintained)
  • Impact on Pharmacy services
  • Impact on medical services and outpatient clinics
  • Impact on Hospital (patient presentations)
  • Client feedback

St Helena Pharmacist John Woollacott said:

“Most parents will already be familiar with coming to the Pharmacy for over-the-counter treatments for their children – I deal with several enquiries like this every day. The medications included in this trial will be for the treatment of minor complaints, including pain relief, cold symptom relief, and the treatment of rashes, hayfever, head lice, veruccas, mouth ulcers and constipation, among other minor conditions.

 “I hope that parents will welcome the extra convenience of this change and an end to the discrepancy of having to pay for an item when it is recommended by me, but not paying when the prescription comes from a doctor. I know that some parents were finding this difference frustrating.

“Naturally, if there are any clinical concerns, the patient will be referred for appointment with a medical officer.”

Councillor Derek Thomas, Chairman of the Public Health Committee, added:

“I hope that this scheme will benefit both children and their parents, and be welcomed by the community. It means that the public will not have to wait to see a doctor for minor medical complaints, which will also save time for the doctor. And there will be a welcome cost benefit, especially to low income families.”

Health Directorate


17 August 2015


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