Health Minister announces additional £8m for community pharmacy

Date published: 22 March 2022

Health Minister Robin Swann has today announced an investment of £8m into community pharmacy to support the phased introduction of a new medicines adherence service in Northern Ireland.

Peter Rice, Chair Community Pharmacy NI, Health Minister Robin Swann, Cathy Harrison, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer.
Peter Rice, Chair Community Pharmacy NI, Health Minister Robin Swann, Cathy Harrison, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer.

This investment follows extensive discussions between Department of Health, the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and Community Pharmacy NI, the representative body for community pharmacy.

This service will help to ensure that people at high risk of harm from poor adherence to their medication will receive tailored support to assist them to take their medicines on time and as prescribed. The service will be introduced in phases over the coming months to allow a standard approach for new patients who need access to additional support. Phase one will involve patients being discharged from hospital with complex needs relating to their medication

Speaking during a visit to Dundela Pharmacy, Minister Swann said: “I am delighted to be able to announce this further additional investment of £8m into community pharmacy. This funding will immediately benefit those patients being discharged from hospital with complex medication needs.”

The Health Minister continued: “I am very pleased to also give my support to an agreed three year community pharmacy commissioning plan for 2022-25 which, subject to funding being in place, will provide a coherent structure for the provision of community pharmacy services over the next 36 months. The 2022-25 commissioning plan continues to build on the successful commissioning agreements that have been in place over the last two years and ensures that community pharmacies will continue to provide a number of additional services to meet the needs of patients.”

Cathy Harrison, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at the Department of Health said: “Community pharmacies provide highly trusted and accessible services involving the safe supply of medicines, vaccines and pharmaceutical advice. Today’s announcement will help ensure that services can be developed to provide tailored support to people who need help to take their medicines safely, on time and as prescribed.”

Joe Brogan, Head of Pharmacy and Medicines Management at the Health and Social Care Board said: “Community pharmacies have provided much needed additional services during the response to COVID-19. We very much value how pharmacy staff responded to the needs of our communities and recognise the challenges that were faced. Learning from this, we have jointly developed a 3-year commissioning plan which prioritises and seeks to extend clinical services from community pharmacies.”

Gerard Greene, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland said: “This is a welcome and much needed investment in community pharmacy. It comes after two years of a pandemic, where we have clearly seen how important community pharmacy is in supporting patients and enabling them to access a vital health service. The Minister’s commitment to a new three year commissioning plan gives us more certainty and will mean we can now develop and plan new services. 

 “In addition, the investment in the medicines adherence service will allow community pharmacists to work directly with hospitals to ensure that patients who are being discharged and in need of specialised medicine support, can now receive that from their local pharmacy. This will have a positive impact in getting patients out of hospital more quickly and will mean they can be cared for at home.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The 2022-25 pharmacy commissioning plan is a roadmap of how community pharmacy services will be delivered, developed and funded over the next three years. Community pharmacies are one of the front doors to the health and social care service and with over 500 outlets, pharmacies are located across Northern Ireland, providing services to both urban and rural communities and often in areas of high deprivation. The commissioning plan is available on the HSCNI website.
  1. An estimated 123,000 people across Northern Ireland use community pharmacies daily. Community pharmacies play an important role in the safe supply of medicines and also provide advice and support to help people better understand their medicines.
  1. Community pharmacists will also provide additional support to some patients who need extra help them to take their medicines as intended by their doctor. This plan ensures that essential services such as prescriptions and expert medicines advice from qualified pharmacists are maintained and where possible, improved and expanded.
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