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A group representing community pharmacy stakeholders has expressed its concerns over the lack of clarity around supply of medicines from Great Britain to Northern Ireland after December 31, the end of the Brexit transition period.

Reconvened by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) on Oct 8, a meeting of the Community Pharmacy Brexit Forum heard members’ worries over potential impact of Brexit on patients, particularly with the Covid-19 challenges likely to continue, alongwith mounting winter pressures at this time of the year.

The forum has also shared its concerns over the potential for prescribing periods to be extended ahead of the Brexit deadline. Pharmacy leaders stressed that prescribing and dispensing should be allowed operate on a business as usual basis as far as possible and that this should be widely communicated.

“There was a consensus among pharmacy stakeholders that more communications would be helpful to address patient concerns and expectations, and PSNC will convene a communications group to address this,” the pharmacy negotiator said in a statement on Tuesday (October 13).

The forum also heard from both the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England & NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) about the preparations being made to manage any potential risks to supply and to deal with medicines shortages.

The group will meet again closer to the Brexit deadline and will continue to monitor Brexit matters and to raise issues with DHSC and NHSE&I on behalf of community pharmacy.

Gordon Hockey, PSNC Director of Operations and Support, said: “The Community Pharmacy Brexit Forum proved a useful vehicle for communications during previous Brexit countdown periods, allowing the government to have wide-ranging discussions with everyone involved in the community pharmacy supply of medicines.

“Similarly, the forum is a place for pharmacy representatives to come together and share any concerns and possible solutions.

“Unsurprisingly, the key focus for the group is ensuring the continuity of medicines supply and we will continue to use the group’s influence to ensure that Government and the NHS are aware of the risks and doing all that they can to mitigate them.”

The Community Pharmacy Brexit Forum was established by PSNC in 2018 in preparation for previous Brexit deadlines and is now back in place ahead of the end of the transition period.

Its aim is to bring together the sector and policy makers, and ultimately to try to ensure that the community pharmacy sector and patients are not adversely affected by Brexit.

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