Landmark £13.25m funding and commissioning agreement announced for Community Pharmacy

Date published: 01 July 2020

A new £13.25 million funding package for community pharmacy has been announced today by Health Minister Robin Swann.

This funding is being made available up to March 2021 and is in addition to a confirmed recurrent financial envelope of £112.4m for 2020/21.  It also adds to a previous investment of £7.5m for the period April to June 2020 which ensured that pharmacies could continue to maintain the supply of essential medicines during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today’s announcement is the outcome of collaborative working between the Department of Health, Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI) and the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB). 

Speaking during a visit to McKay’s Pharmacy in Belfast, Health Minister Robin Swann said: “I am very pleased to be able to announce this investment in community pharmacy, which has responded promptly and professionally to the Covid-19 emergency response.

“I fully understand the historical challenges faced by the sector. This agreement provides a firm foundation that will enable community pharmacy to play a full part in the future of the HSC.”

Cathy Harrison, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at the Department of Health said “Every day our community pharmacy staff work with the utmost professionalism on the frontline of the HSC, providing accessible services for the public. This agreement shows that we are backing our community pharmacy teams as we continue to work through the uncertainty of the coming months and towards a more positive future.”

Joe Brogan, Head of Pharmacy and Medicines Management at the Health and Social Care Board said: “People rely upon their local pharmacies for medicines and advice from an accessible, trusted and respected health care professional. Community pharmacy teams have been exceptionally valuable in supporting the public particularly in the recent past through very challenging times. With this funding confirmed we anticipate being able to support and develop the pharmacy services that the public need throughout 20/21.”

Gerard Greene, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland said: “We welcome the announcement from the Department of Health. This funding will allow the community pharmacy network to sustain and develop services to build upon its vital, frontline role. This allocation signals a move forward for community pharmacy as a key service in the new post-Covid health and social care system supporting important service provision to patients. It is a clear recognition of the critical role of the sector, not only in the safe supply of medicines, but as the fabric which holds local communities together in times of crisis.”

Minister Swann concluded: “This is the first time that an agreement on the commissioning and funding of community pharmacy has been reached in Northern Ireland and I recognise all the hard work that has brought us here today. I welcome the new approach to collaborative working which I believe will be beneficial for the HSC, pharmacies, and all those who use their services.”

Notes to editors: 

1. The funding announced today will ensure that, as well as the core dispensing service provided by all pharmacies, community pharmacies will begin to provide additional services from July 2020 to meet the needs of patients during the pandemic period.  

  • An emergency supply service, started in phase one of the pandemic, will continue.
  • Services for smoking cessation and opiate substitution therapy, suspended during the initial phases of the emergency response, will re-commence.
  • An enhanced on-call palliative care service will be provided and a new service developed for care homes.
  • A ‘Pharmacy first’ service will provide a consultation with a pharmacist for access to advice and treatment for common conditions, avoiding the need for the public to attend GP/OOH/ED services.
  • Pharmacies will provide targeted advice and signposting for mental and physical health promotion.
  • A medicines delivery services will be developed for vulnerable groups.

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