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Pharmacist pair briefs politicians on ‘crisis’ situation in Northern Ireland


Pharmacist pair briefs politicians on ‘crisis’ situation in Northern Ireland

A father and daughter pharmacist duo has delivered a stark warning to elected representatives in Northern Ireland of the “crisis” facing the NI pharmacy sector.

Laurence and Laura O’Kane of O’Kane’s pharmacy in Draperstown told members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) that rising workload, workforce issues and chronic underfunding threaten the future of many pharmacies, while Community Pharmacy NI chief executive Gerard Greene and chair Peter Rice set out their hopes for working with the Department of Health in the future.  

Laurence O’Kane told the MLAs present: “Community pharmacy is at crisis; it is at a point at which in my 37 years as a pharmacist I haven’t experienced before. Our hands are tied as we try to deal with workforce issues, medicines shortages, rising costs and keep the doors of our pharmacies open for patients.

“We need immediate investment to not only help local pharmacies survive, but also unleash their potential.”

Laura O’Kane commented: “We need to see more community pharmacists becoming Independent Prescribers as this would enable them to deliver more clinical services that would allow patients to see us first without the need to visit their GP.

“With the unique accessibility of community pharmacy, we see patients every day without appointment, many with long-term conditions.

“As a newly qualified pharmacist I want to do more to help manage these patients in the community and alleviate pressures across the health service, but we need the investment in our profession to make this happen”.

CPNI chief executive Gerard Greene said that while community pharmacist “are well placed and possess the clinical skills” needed to address primary care bottlenecks, more funding will be needed.

“We are clear that there must be an urgent injection, as was announced last week in Scotland where a £20m funding injection was confirmed,” said Mr Greene.

“We urgently need stabilisation of community pharmacy funding and for the chronic systemic underfunding of the network to be addressed alongside plans that will see the development of the workforce.

“We need the support of elected representatives to appeal to the Department of Health to turn all of this into a reality.”

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