Pitopito Kōrero News & Updates

Pātai mai – a free phone line for questions about medicines

Published April 20 2020

In response to the COVID-19 situation, Ngā Kaitiaki o Te Puna Rongoā o Aotearoa – the Māori Pharmacists Association (MPA) have re-launched their free phone line to answer questions that kaumātua or whānau may have about their medicines.

People can ring from anywhere across Aotearoa and their call will be returned within 24 hours by a Māori pharmacist.

These pātai (questions) may be things such as:

How do I use my medicine?

What is my medicine for?

What are the common side effects and how can these be managed?

Should I get the flu vaccine?

Will my normal medicines be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

When callers ring the dedicated phone line, they are asked to leave their contact details, and one of a team of 10 Māori pharmacists will respond and go through their questions.

This is not an urgent service. Whānau are encouraged to continue to call 111 in an emergency, or their normal doctor or Healthline if they are wanting prompt medical advice.

General Information about pharmacists, pharmacies and medicines

In most cases, your pharmacy will still be open, but it may look different. All pharmacies have changed the way patients and customers can move around the pharmacy to reduce the risk of people coming into contact with each other. Some pharmacies may be operating with a ‘closed door’ policy which means there will be someone greeting you at the door, asking what you need and then everything you need will be brought to you while you wait outside.

All pharmacies will continue to have pharmacists available that you can talk to for advice about your medicines. Pharmacies are not allowed to open without a pharmacist.

A lot of pharmacies have screens or barriers up and that may make it harder to hear information. If you have a problem, let them know and they can work out other arrangements for you.

Most of your prescriptions will now be being sent straight from your doctor, or other prescriber, straight to the pharmacy by fax or email. If you are able to, ring ahead and work out a plan with your pharmacy about when to come in and how to get your medicines. Some pharmacies might have a system where you can text them too. Sometimes at the moment it can take 1-2 days for non-urgent prescriptions.

If you are feeling unwell then it is still really important to seek help from your pharmacists, doctors and nurses. And if you feel very unwell, go to hospital as normal (or call 111 if it is an emergency). All of these places have changed their systems to make it as safe as possible for you to move around during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is important that you keep taking your medicines as normal. Its really important to manage medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. If your diabetes, blood pressure, heart disease and other long term conditions are well controlled, your body will be better able to fight infections, including COVID-19.

Pharmacies will continue to remain open during all stages of the COVID 19 pandemic. You do not need to stock pile your medicines but do make sure you have 1-2 weeks worth of medicine supply on hand because things may take longer to process both at the GP and pharmacy at the moment.

Flu vaccinations: It’s really important we vaccinate against the influenza, the flu.. Flu vaccine will not stop you from getting COVID-19 but it helps prevent the flu which can be just as serious for kaumātua, those that are pregnant, or have long-term medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Some pharmacies can help with this.