Department launches ‘emergency review’ of NI pharmacies
Northern Ireland’s Department of Health has announced an “emergency review” into the pressures facing community pharmacies this winter.
In a statement on Friday (December 18), the DH said it planned to “define the services that can be reliably delivered this winter” and “provide certainty to” the public and health and care workers.
This follows repeated calls for action from sector negotiator Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland, which has warned that pharmacies are being battered by rising costs and medicine shortages.
Addressing Stormont MLAs in October, CPNI board director John Clark said a recent cash injection of £5.3m will not be enough to tackle pharmacies’ funding shortfall, which he said amounted to at least £20m.
The DH said: “The Department is very conscious of the challenges facing community pharmacies.
“Similarly, the Department itself and all parts of the HSC system are experiencing severe pressures – the Department is still without a confirmed budget for 2022/23 with a significant overspend projected for the year.
“Financial constraints are expected to continue and potentially deepen further in forthcoming years.
“An emergency review of all community pharmacy services was previously completed at the start of the pandemic, in light of the pressures at that time.
“Department of Health permanent secretary Peter May has offered to meet with Community Pharmacy NI next week to discuss the situation facing the sector.”
CPNI has been approached for comment.