Minister hails ambitious plan for community pharmacy

Date published: 07 May 2024


The Department of Health has today published a new Strategic Plan for Community Pharmacy which aims to fully realise the potential of community pharmacy services to support better health outcomes from medicines and prevent illness.

Department of Health Latest News image white text on a departmental blue background
Department of Health Latest News image white text on a departmental blue background

This important piece of work was developed collaboratively by the Department of Health and Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI), the representative body for community pharmacy owners, and describes the vision and strategic priorities for community pharmacy up to 2030.

Building on the trusted role that community pharmacies already have in supplying medicines, the plan outlines a vision where community pharmacies can offer more clinical services that utilise the skills of their teams to offer the public safe, convenient, and faster access to care. Across six strategic priorities, the vision will be realised through four major reform programmes for services, legislation, workforce, and digital enablers that together will transform community pharmacy’s role within the HSC.

Implementation of the Strategic Plan will require targeted investment to implement reforms, including new digital systems and service developments that will improve access to care and increase capacity within the HSC. 

Health Minister Robin Swann said: “I am delighted to give my support to this new Community Pharmacy Strategic Plan, which delivers on a recommendation in the ‘Delivering Together’ strategy to outline a framework for realising the potential of community pharmacy services, and which builds on the previously agreed 3-year community pharmacy commissioning plan. I acknowledge the involvement of CPNI working with my officials to develop this plan and am keen that they continue to work collaboratively with my Department to realise the vision for the benefit of our population over the coming years.”

The Minister added: “Against the backdrop of the current severe budgetary pressures and the multiple demands for additional funding across all parts of health and social care, additional investment continues to be provided to the community pharmacy sector. However, more will be required to fully deliver this Strategic Plan up to 2030.

“I am very conscious that the Community Pharmacy sector – like all sectors across health and social care – is keen to see further investment.”

Professor Cathy Harrison, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, said: “The Community Pharmacy Strategic Plan describes a positive and ambitious vision for community pharmacy in Northern Ireland. It outlines how the delivery of planned reforms in the period up to 2030 will provide the public with continued access to medicines from pharmacies plus an increased range of clinical services. This will help realise the potential within community pharmacy teams to provide quicker access to care for acute and long-term conditions in local communities, utilising advances in medicines, diagnostics, digital and medical technologies.”

The key priorities over the next ten years include:

•           expanding the range of clinical services available through community pharmacies to improve access to patient care pathways for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness;

•           maintaining and modernising systems for the safe and reliable supply of medicines and professional advice from community pharmacies;

•           developing the capacity and capability of the community pharmacy workforce;

•           building the digital architecture needed to ensure safe, efficient, paperless systems in the future. 

•           strengthening community development links to help address health inequalities and improve health literacy; and

•           promoting community pharmacy as a great place to train, work and in which to build pharmacy careers.   

Full delivery of the vision outlined in the plan will be subject to funding. The Department will continue to work with Community Pharmacy NI and the pharmacy profession to progress a phased approach to implementation over the coming years.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Strategic Plan for Community Pharmacy is available on the Department of Health website:
  2. The level of government funding for community pharmacies in NI compares favourably to other parts of the UK.
  3. Funding for community pharmacies in NI has increased in recent years. The year-start investment total for community pharmacy services was £104m in 2018/19. By 2023/24 it was £128m and in April of this year it stood at £147m. There has therefore been a £43m (41%) increase in six years.
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