Health Minister sees first-hand the benefits of pharmacy in practice

Date published: 14 September 2016


Health Minister Michelle O’Neill has today visited the Springfield Road GP practice to hear about the integrated working arrangements between the GP surgery and the Pharmacy.

The Minister said: “I appreciate the challenges facing GP-led services and the fact that demand for GP-led services is increasing. I am committed to developing a long-term plan to ensure that GP services continue to provide high quality care to the population on a sustainable basis. 

“I have invested £1.7million in practice-based pharmacists this year to help ease some of the GP workload and improve the service for patients.” 

Having pharmacists in all GP practices will allow GPs to spend more time with patients and improve patient outcomes; their specialist knowledge of medicines will also improve appropriate and safe prescribing through medication reviews and help reduce errors and waste.

Following on from the surgery visit, the Minister went to speak with the community pharmacy team at Cooper’s Chemists. She continued saying: “Altogether community pharmacies here in the north of Ireland dispensed over 40 million prescription items last year and their unequalled access to patients provides them with the opportunity to promote wellbeing through the best use of medicines and healthy lifestyles. 

“With a growing population presenting with more long-term complex needs, getting the best outcomes from the medicines that are prescribed and supplied can help reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment and alleviate the burden on acute care.

“This surgery is an excellent example of the direct benefits of the Pharmacists in Practice initiative and clearly demonstrates improved patient outcomes for the people in this area of Belfast.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. There are approximately 120 practices that currently benefit from the services of a practice pharmacist. The Health and Social Care Board also has 20 (whole time equivalent) Pharmacy Advisers and 3.5 Prescribing Support Pharmacists that provide routine review, advice and support to GP practices currently.
  2. Springfield Road surgery has been operational for over 70 years and the Riverdale surgery came into operation in 1989. GPs moved into the new Riverdale Surgery in November 2015. GP list size at April 2016 for Springfield Road and Riverdale practice was 9,052 patients.
  3. In 2015/16, an investment package of up to £5.1million was agreed for general medical services with a further investment package of up to £7.02million for 2016/17.  £1.2 million has been invested in an additional 20 GP training places bringing the total each year to 85.
  4. Media enquiries about this press release to DOH Press Office on 9052 0575, or out of hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.  Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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