Northern Irish pharmacists have voiced their concern over what they describe as the continued failure of the country’s health administration to address the “funding crisis” they are facing.
Over 100 pharmacists met in Belfast to express their concern with the situation at an event convened by Community Pharmacy NI on Wednesday 3 October.
CPNI estimates that the cost of providing pharmacy services is currently underfunded by Northern Ireland’s Department of Health “by at least £20m”.
In a recent CPNI survey, around 90 per cent of respondents agreed that the “current funding situation is having an impact on their own health and wellbeing.”
A petition aimed at keeping the sector afloat reached over 120,000 signatures earlier this year.
One Belfast pharmacist said that “consistent underfunding” has meant that he and his colleagues “cannot afford to keep normal stocks of medicines”.
CPNI chief executive Gerard Greene said: “The level of anger being directed towards the Department of Health is at boiling point. The contractors that we represent are adamant that this stand-off cannot continue.
“They are at breaking point as the realities of managing their businesses on a day-to-day basis, while serving patients and customers, is causing severe strain.
“The cost of providing the community pharmacy service is hugely underfunded due to a shortfall in what the Department of Health is willing to allocate and the cost of keeping community pharmacies open.
“Some contractors have told us that they are ready to go out of business. This is unacceptable and must be urgently addressed. We are calling for clear and fair remuneration and reimbursement so that investment can take place to meet safety, quality and efficacy requirements. At present that just does not exist.”