In Northern Ireland pharmacists work at policy, strategic and service levels to support improved patient health across all areas of public health.
The Medicines Policy Branch at the Department provides pharmaceutical advice to minister, administrative and professional colleagues on all public health policy issues where there is a pharmaceutical dimension including:
- childhood vaccinations
- seasonal flu
- pandemic flu
- emergency planning
- tobacco control
- tackling health inequalities
Pharmacists work with the Public Health Agency on all areas of public health with a pharmaceutical dimension and are involved in commissioning and managing the delivery of public health services.
The Regional Pharmaceutical Procurement Service is responsible for the procurement processes which supports delivery of:
- childhood vaccination
- annual seasonal flu programmes
This service also has a significant role in emergency planning.
Community pharmacists are highly accessible health professionals who contribute to the delivery of public health in a range of ways including the provision of advice about:
- using medicines safely and appropriately
- self care
- health improvement
- healthy lifestyles
They also signpost individuals to other agencies.
Many community pharmacies are commissioned to provide public health services which include:
Minor Ailments Scheme
Most community pharmacies provide a minor ailments scheme which enables patients to access advice and also treatment for certain common conditions without visiting their GP.
Building the Community Pharmacy Partnership
The Building the Community-Pharmacy Partnership promotes and supports local communities to work in partnership with community pharmacists to address local health and social wellbeing needs using a community development approach.
The programme works towards:
- increasing local people's skills, encouraging community activity and self help
- increasing local people's understanding of health issues
- encouraging local people to play a role in promoting health
Specialist Smoking Cessation services
Over 300 community pharmacies in Northern Ireland provide a Specialist Smoking Cessation Service.
The service offers a 12 week programme of behavioural support with Nicotine Replacement Therapy to clients who want to stop smoking.
Pharmacies are the largest provider of specialist smoking cessation services in Northern Ireland.
Pharmacists and pharmacy teams in hospitals manage:
- the distribution of Childhood and HPV vaccines to GP practices
- supply seasonal flu vaccines to Occupational Health Services for administration to healthcare workers