£10.5million to alleviate pharmacy pressures

Date published: 24 March 2020

Health Minister Robin Swann today announced additional funding of £10.5million to support the pressures being faced by community pharmacies.

Pharmacies play an essential role in the communities they serve and are experiencing mounting pressure due to COVID-19.

Speaking following a meeting with representatives of Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI), Health Minister Robin Swann said: "The entire health and social care system in Northern Ireland is under severe pressure due to COVID-19.  That pressure is also being felt in community pharmacies by the staff who are working in challenging conditions and dealing with increasing demands for prescriptions.

“I want to reassure everyone that supplies of medicines are continually replenished.  There is no need to stockpile.  This creates a pressure on the system that will be felt by the most vulnerable in our society.”  

Working conditions were also discussed at the meeting and the Minister expressed alarm that some members of the public have been abusive to pharmacy staff.   He said:
“This is not acceptable.  Everyone within the health and social care system is working at capacity to provide a service to patients.  They must be allowed to do their work in a safe environment and must have sufficient breaks.  This why pharmacies will now operate different hours and I ask for public support and understanding at this time.”

Concluding, the Minister said:
“I am aware that patients may be concerned about not being able to access their medicines if self-isolating or unwell.  Some pharmacies may offer a delivery service.  Work is also ongoing to explore how the voluntary and community sector might help but in the meantime I call on the people of Northern Ireland to lend a hand.  Look after your loved ones and neighbours.  Ask them if they need help and offer to collect their prescriptions.  We all must do it to get through it.  Together we can win.” 

Notes to editors: 

  1. Media queries to Department for Health Information Office on 028 9052 0571. Out of hours contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.
  2. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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