The health spokesmen of the main political parties in Northern Ireland have highlighted the current funding crisis in community pharmacy in a letter to the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health, Richard Pengelly.

The five signatories point out that despite several investigations outlining the cost of service, there remains an identified shortfall in excess of £20 million in funding needed to run community pharmacy effectively.

This was independently outlined in a Cost of Service Investigation carried out by PwC and published by the Department in November 2017. The group of health spokesmen have called on the Department of Health to:

  • Open further discussions with Community Pharmacy NI
  • Urgently introduce an interim rescue package
  • Reintroduce proprietary mitigation to address the issue of ‘dispensing at a loss’
  • Ensuring sufficient funding is maintained in rural areas
  • Deliver a new community pharmacy contract as a matter of urgency.

Gerard Greene, chief executive of Community Pharmacy NI, said: “The intervention from this group of MLAs hasn’t come a moment too soon as the policy divergence between what has been agreed in terms of financial support and what is being realised is substantially different and simply can’t continue in this way.”

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