Concerns are being raised over how quality of patient care in pharmacies will be affected once new government cuts go into effect in April.

Edmonton pharmacist Lidia Molinara says it’s going to be important for Albertans to educate themselves about the medications they’re taking because there will be less help from pharmacists once cuts to contribution of prescription drugs go into effect.

On April 1, the province will reduce the amount of money it contributes to prescription drugs by 18 per cent from 35 per cent.

Molinara says the reduction means Alberta pharmacies will receive less money and that will translate into a reduction in pharmacist hours and less time for education programs and personal care services.

“There is going to be a reduction in those services if the revenue is reduced,” Molinara said.

“You’ll have to start cutting services that were considered over and above and you’ll have to take those away.”

Molinara says the cuts are expected to impact a wide range of Albertans.

“High-risk you’re looking at the senior population, the pediatric population, mental health patients as well as the diabetic, asthmatic, heart disease, the ones who consume and have a lot of complications, you’ll see an impact on that,” she said.

“You’ll see that impact starting April 1.”

The Health Minister says the province is still financially supporting pharmacists and their role in the health care system.

“We were the first province in Canada to come out with a professional services framework for pharmacists and what I mean by that is actually paying pharmacists to provide the services that they’re actually trained to do and that they’re allowed to do under regulation so that’s renewing prescriptions, providing a care plan as part of a primary care team,” said Health Minister Fred Horne.

“What we’ve been working on for two years now is recognizing pharmacists as full partners in the health care system, not just people who dispense drugs over the counter.”

Molinara says Albertans need to now become better educated when it comes to their medications.

“Now you don’t have a pharmacist who is involved in looking at the medication, what’s the right indication, that starts to diminish and so the consumer now has to be that much more aware the questions to ask and what they have to do and their educational role because you’ll have less time with the pharmacist,” she said.

It’s estimated the move will save the province $90 million per year.

With files from Carmen Leibel