Belfast Telegraph

Community pharmacists travel to Westminster in bid to save network

Some 75,000 people have signed a petition urging the Department of Health to save the community pharmacy network in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland’s Secretary of State is being urged to intervene to save community pharmacies.

A delegation of community pharmacy representatives will be in Westminster on Wednesday to meet with Karen Bradley over the funding crisis in the network.

Earlier this year Gerard Greene, Community Pharmacy NI chief executive, claimed £20 million underfunding by the Department of Health had left the industry in a critical state.

Some 75,000 people have signed a petition urging the department to save the community pharmacy network in Northern Ireland.

With the continued collapse of devolved government at Stormont, Mr Greene said they are now taking their case to Westminster.

“We have brought our fight to Westminster as the current political vacuum in Northern Ireland means we are getting nowhere fast,” he said.

“The engagement so far with the Department of Health and HSCB (Health and Social Board) has been less than useful.

“We are constantly told that community pharmacy is to play a crucial part in the Health Transformation Programme, yet we are still working off an out of date contract that the previous Health Minister made clear needed to be urgently developed.

“Pharmacy contractors are providing services with insufficient funding being provided by the Department of Health and HSCB and this is neither acceptable nor sustainable.

“We are calling on the Secretary of State to intervene urgently to address this growing crisis before the damage done is irreversible.”

The meeting with Ms Bradley on Wednesday is being facilitated by DUP MP Ian Paisley.

The implications for public health are not good if this situation continues in this way DUP MP Ian Paisley

He said: “Assembly and Executive paralysis means that the Department of Health is burying its head in the sand on the critical issue and the Secretary of State must urgently intervene before we start to see community pharmacists having to close their doors across Northern Ireland.

“The implications for public health are not good if this situation continues in this way. Patients who need certain medication are now living in fear that they will not get access to the drugs they need.

“We simply cannot let people live in this way.

“We understand that the health service is under severe pressure, but we desperately need the clinical skills and community support provided by our pharmacies.

“I alongside the Community Pharmacy NI representative body need a clear direction from the Secretary of State to alleviate the immediate pressures and place community pharmacy on a sustainable footing.”

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