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04 February 2009
The Schedule Five System

Everybody is aware of the bad state of our national health service. Everyone also knows that there is a shortage of doctors , nurses and para-medical staff. Ways and means of  tackling this problem clearly requires both an increase in the actual number of these people and also increasing their efficiency.  I elaborate on just one point which can increase the efficiency of doctors in the primary health care service whose optimized service is essential to decrease the number of people having to be treated at the hospitals.

The schedule 5  (yellow form) system that we currently use which basically consists of a consultant specialist filling out a special form which eventually leads to the issue of a yellow card (in certain cases with a special permit) for the prescription of free medicinals that are listed on the fifth schedule. From that point on a patient periodically goes to his own  or health centre  doctor who fills prescription forms with details and often multiple medicines.  Considering this is done repeatedly every three months for about a third of the population of our country ,this process is very time consuming in paper-work for general practitioners.  Such time can be utilized in more valuable clinical care and reduce the huge queues at the health centres during morning hours and throughout the day for private GP’s.

I expect the government medical authorities to take the initiative and optimize primary health doctor’s time ,amongst other things, by removing this paper work burden (the pharmacy of your choice scheme got stuck!) by utilizing ready printed stickers or papers given to the patients as these would only need a quick signature. What developed countries have been doing for 15  years should be adopted by us at least by now!

DrEtienne Grech MD

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